We seem to be constantly surrounded by all kinds of games of chance, including community bingos, the seemingly ever-present 50/50 draws, a raffle held by a non-profit group, or the most obvious example, a casino. Have you ever wondered what type of oversight there might be for these activities? Can any organization or individual run a gaming event? How can a person tell the difference between legal and unsanctioned gaming activities?
The Alberta Gambling, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) regulates gaming activities in the province of Alberta, including each of the examples listed above. All gambling activities in the province of Alberta require a license, which is issued by the AGLC. The specific license depends on the type of gaming activity and, in some cases, the amount of potential sales (total ticket value for raffles or total card sales for bingo events).
According to the AGLC website (aglc.ca/gaming/about-gaming-alberta), Alberta uses a charitable gaming model including:
· Charitable Organizations – who are given licenses to run casino and bingo events and sell raffle and pull tickets
· Private Casino Operators – who own the casinos used by charities
· Bingo Associations – who run bingo halls on behalf of member charities
· Horse Racetrack Operators – who run racing entertainment centres
· First Nations Casino Operators
· Private Businesses – who run lottery kiosks and vlt lounges
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the type of gaming activities that one might run into at community events or functions, which would include the first item on the list, charitable organizations.
The AGLC website (aglc.ca/gaming/charitablegaming/eligibility-charitable-gaming) also states that to be eligible for a gaming license, a charitable organization must demonstrate one of these four charitable purposes:
· Aid to the distressed (women’s shelters, food banks, victim services, etc.)
· Advancement of education (school parent advisory groups, support for libraries, museum societies, etc.)
· Advancement of religion (places of worship, parishes and congregations, etc.)
· Community Benefit (senior citizens groups, supporting eligible amateur sports, community service groups, health and medical aid or support, etc.)
It’s important to note that individuals are not eligible to hold a raffle license; only charitable or religious organizations can do so. Another important caveat is that selling raffle tickets through social media, such as Facebook, is not permitted.
If you have doubts about the validity of a raffle or gaming activity, you can always ask for the AGLC license number and check with the AGLC to ensure the license is active.
The most significant risk to individuals participating in unlicensed gaming activities is the potential for fraud; there are no safeguards to protect participants in these activities.
The risks for organizations or individuals operating gaming activities are potentially much steeper, including charges under the Criminal Code and/or provincial charges under the Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Act (GLCA). An organization found to be in contravention of the Criminal Code or GLCA may also be refused a gaming license for up to 5 years from the offence.
By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 26, 2023