Rural Municipalities of Alberta Seeking Overhaul of Charitable Gaming Model

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), which represents the province’s counties and districts, is calling for Alberta’s charitable gaming model to be formally reviewed, as it feels the current model is unfair to non-profits.

At present, non-profits in Alberta can get a license to carry out volunteer-run casino events. There is a big gap, however, in how much these charities earn depending on which region they’re in. Rural communities earn considerably less on average than those in cities, putting their non-profits at a disadvantage.

Calgary Herald reported that casino events run by Calgary organizations receive $42,000 on average each year and will host an event every 20 months. Groups in rural areas get $16,000 on average and have to wait three years between casino events.

The RMA stated it wants the charitable gaming model reviewed regularly and has recommendations for an overhaul. Including one change that would see the pooling of a portion of the revenue generated in each region of Alberta and distributing it equally to all regions. The RMA finds this would significantly reduce the current revenue gap.

RMA President Paul McLauchlin has said that the problem could be eased if the AGLC’s PlayAlberta site provided a portion of its online gaming revenue to charities.

“There’s an opportunity to make everybody whole if they looked at the online gaming proceeds flowing into the same system as well as potentially bumping it all up,” McLauchlin told the Herald.

But does this push for charitable gaming fit into Alberta gaming plans?

McLauchlin noted the charitable gaming model in Alberta “has been a political issue for a really long time.” He remembers discussing it when he joined the RMA seven years ago. “Time goes by, and nobody hears anything, so we’ve got to bring it back up again.”

The issue has resurfaced at a time when Alberta is currently undergoing a wider assessment of the feasibility of a regulated gaming industry. Dale Nally, Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Minister, has the task of leading a $1 million review of the potential path forward in Wild Rose Country.

Nally’s press secretary, Nick Gocuan, said in a statement last month that “the province will engage with traditional casino operators, Racing Entertainment Centre operators, and First Nations starting this year to hear their perspectives on opportunities to expand iGaming in Alberta in a way that makes sense for our province, its market, and Albertans.”

“We recognize there are still more opportunities to strengthen the charitable gaming model and the need to study how we can improve the support of charitable organizations from the rural communities,” Gocuan added.

The statement from the minister’s office added that the province will review AGLC’s operations to evaluate the potential of increasing contributions to Alberta charities and community facilities.

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