Alberta is a unique province when it comes to charitable gaming; it is the only province where charitable organizations (COs) can be licensed to conduct and manage casino events. All charitable gaming in the province is licensed through Alberta Gaming, Liquor, & Cannabis (AGLC), including fundraising through bingo, casinos, and both raffle and pull tickets. Casinos bring in the most revenue of these four charitable gaming models by far. According to the AGLC website, COs in Alberta earned $321 million in 2019 – 2020, with 71% of this total raised from casino events.

There are strict laws and regulations around charitable gaming. Charitable gaming activities can only be conducted by charitable or religious groups, and the proceeds from charitable gaming activities can only be used for charitable or religious purposes.

Alberta has distinct regions within the province for charitable casino events where COs are assigned a casino within its designated region. The Century Casino St. Albert is the designated casino for the region encompassing Swan Hills. Unfortunately for the COs in the region, this region has the second lowest annualized return to COs from a casino event in the province at $8,100, with COs waiting roughly 31 months to host an event. A wait time of 31 months is a little higher than the provincial average of 29 months but nowhere near as long as Camrose’s wait of 41 months. For reference, Calgary has the highest annualized return to COs in the province at $42,000 and a wait time of 20 months. There is a marked inequality between urban and rural regions, with the larger cities pulling in quite a bit more for their COs.

While COs in Alberta are fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct and manage casino events for fundraising purposes, the disparity in earnings between urban and rural casino puts rural COs at a stunning disadvantage. The only exception to this situation can be found in the Calgary area. Casino events for rural COs outside of the City of Calgary are assigned to Century Casino in Calgary. The wait times for this casino are quite high at 36 months, but the annualized return of $16,000 from one of Calgary’s casinos ranks as the 7th highest in the province, with only the Calgary, Edmonton, and Ft. McMurray regions earning more.

Surely something could be done to effectively even out this disparity.

By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 12, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Grizzly Gazette   Swan Hills, Alberta

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