Saskatchewan sports bettors could have legal options for wagering online and at casinos in the Prairie province by the time the Roughriders are again playing regular-season Canadian Football League games.
That’s at least according to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), which operates seven casinos and has been tapped to run an online gambling site that will offer sports betting.
“Sports betting plans are currently in development, and we anticipate that sports betting both at casino sites and on our Online Gaming Portal will be available to the public by Summer 2022,” said Alanna Adamko, director of communications for SIGA, in an email.
The launch of retail and online sports betting in Saskatchewan by SIGA will give punters in the province more choice in how they get down a legal wager. Currently, the only authorized avenue for sports betting in Saskatchewan is Western Canada Lottery Corp.’s SPORT SELECT game, which caps wagers at $100 and requires players to travel to a store to get their ticket.
SIGA’s online portal (for which the non-profit organization is looking for a vendor to help with development) will also bring what Saskatchewan is offering in terms of legal sports betting up to a similar level as neighbouring Alberta and Manitoba. In those provinces, there are already internet-based sportsbooks run by government-owned lottery and gaming corporations; Alberta is also eyeing additional online sports wagering options tied to its casinos.
Perhaps even more importantly, the new online gaming portal will help Saskatchewan's government and First Nations to capture some of the revenue that’s presently flowing to offshore and illegal gambling entities.
“This new online gaming site will be a safe, regulated and secure platform that will fall under existing responsible gambling practices,” said Don Morgan, the government minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Gaming Corp., in a September press release. “This site will have measures and resources in place to support players and protect privacy, while also contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of Saskatchewan.”
It was in September that an amendment was announced to the gaming framework agreement between the provincial government and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.
The amendment laid the legal foundation for SIGA, which was created by FSIN, to operate an online gambling site in addition to its casinos. SIGA also signed a letter of intent with the Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. that sets out the general terms of how the former will operate the site and the latter will manage it.
While it was originally anticipated the sports betting and online casino gambling site would launch in 2022, SIGA's timeframe has since gotten more specific.
Furthermore, FSIN and the Saskatchewan government settled on a new 50/50 revenue-sharing agreement that splits profits right down the middle. According to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, SIGA will receive five years of exclusivity for its online casino and sportsbook as well, meaning the government will not operate a competing app or website during that period.
“The additional revenue opportunities from online gaming and sports betting will only increase SIGA’s ability as a non-profit to positively impact employment, economic growth, positive community relations and financial self-reliance of First Nations in the province,” SIGA Chair Chief Reginald Bellerose said in last September’s press release.