Alberta Mulls Internet Lottery

19 April 2000
The Canadian province of Alberta is considering the use of Internet lottery revenues to save its two National Hockey League teams from financial ruin.

The province's NHL teams, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, are struggling to compete with U.S. teams which enjoy the benefits of larger markets and lower tax rates. Several solutions for alleviating the financial woes of Canada's six NHL teams have been proposed in recent years, but none have been adopted. According to Alberta Gaming Minister Murray Smith, an Internet-based lottery could be the answer.

"The (province) would control the site," Smith told The Sun. "It would be a secure site and people would exchange a transaction over the Net. That's not a bad option. That's an interesting option. Whatever it is that's going to unfold, it has to be something that says 'Folks, you get your choice.'"

Smith also said that the government has worked with a private partner for the past two years in developing a plan.

Additionally, the government is looking at a sweepstakes lottery with ticket sales that, according to Smith, "could be used for professional sports teams with a portion going to amateur sport."

Premier Ralph Klein said Monday that the government is working with the two Alberta teams on the possibility of allowing them to run a new sports lottery regulated by the province.

The idea of using lottery revenues to revitalize NHL franchises isn't a new one. In September of '99, the league released a position paper stating that it's willing to partner with provincial lottery corporations if a revenue sharing agreement would keep the Canadian teams in Canada.

A spokeswoman from Smith's office told IGN that an Internet lottery in Alberta was, at this point, nothing more than an idea. She additionally emphasized that NHL teams would not be dipping into revenues from already established lotteries.