Casino Yellowhead in Edmonton, Alberta has been penalized by the Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC) for failing to abide by the provincial Casino Terms & Conditions and Operating Guidelines.
The Pure Canadian Gaming property was the most recent host to DeepStacks Poker Tour (DSPT) for the second of four series DSPT plans to run in Alberta this year. There were eight tournaments from April 16 to 27 earlier this year, including a $1,100 Main Event with a $200,000-guaranteed prizepool that was obliterated when 509 entries tipped the total purse to $480,550.
On the final day of the DSPT Main Event, it came as a surprise to poker players and poker fans to see DSPT tweet a link to Twitch with an invitation to watch a live stream of the Edmonton event. It is not legal to film poker tournaments in Alberta.
AGLC Casino Terms & Conditions and Operating Guidelines
1.17.8 Poker tournaments cannot be filmed or recorded.
Event organizers, poker media, players, and fans have long been requesting that AGLC amend this regulation to allow for video coverage of live poker tournaments, but with no luck. So when a live stream started coming from Casino Yellowhead for the DSPT Main Event, Albertans were wondering whether AGLC had granted a special provision for the event, or whether the regulations were being ignored.
When questions started to be asked about the legality of the stream, the Twitch link was deleted from DSPT's Twitter feed and the stream was shut down before the final table was through.
But the live stream was not the only offence; it was just the one that was recognized as a red flag. DSPT has also shot video for YouTube of all of their Albertan events, and all of those videos can still be found on the WPTDeepStacks YouTube channel. There are currently 11 videos still available to view of the most recent DSPT series in Edmonton.
The answer of whether or not DSPT received special AGLC provision came when AGLC made public a penalty on their Sanctions and Decisions page this week. Casino Yellowhead was issued a fine on May 29 for failing to abide by Casino Terms & Conditions and Operating Guidelines section 1.17.8 (above). The fine was just $100.
It is assumed that a future offence would carry heavier penalties. Casino Yellowhead was given a warning in 2011 for failing to request proof of age from a person who appeared to be under 25. But when they were found guilty of the same offence in 2012, they were fined $1,500.
Many people in the poker community would like to see AGLC change their guidelines so that poker tournaments could be recorded. It is hard to understate how important video coverage of poker tournaments has been for the growth of the game.
While the "Moneymaker effect" has been cited as the spark that set off the poker boom, it was made possible by the fairly new concept of televising poker tournaments. Steve Lipscomb can be credited as being one of the leaders in the industry for starting the World Poker Tour in 2002 as a way to create high-quality video content to broadcast to televisions in living rooms around America. This was, arguably, even more important than Chris Moneymaker's World Series of Poker Main Event win to increase the popularity of poker.
While the poker environment in Alberta is a very healthy one — much more so than most provinces in the country — the ability to produce top-quality video content of Albertan poker tournaments would continue the growth and health of the game.
The next DSPT series will be back at Casino Yellowhead in October. Following that, the annual WPTDeepStacks Championship will be at Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary, which is their most prestigious event of the year and one DSPT will likely want to showcase as best as possible. With the penalty they brought down on Casino Yellowhead last time they were in the province, they may be considering the AGLC regulations more carefully this time around.
Both Casino Yellowhead and DSPT were invited to comment, but neither replied.