An online platform for casino games and sports betting in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan could be up and running just in time for the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup this fall.
November will see the anticipated launch of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority’s new gaming site, according to Alanna Adamko, SIGA’s director of communications and media relations.
This year’s Grey Cup will be played on Nov. 20 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, which means residents 19 or older in the province could have the ability to place online sports wagers on the big game.
In early June, SIGA announced the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) as the winning vendor for the new online gaming site.
BCLC’s PlayNow.com platform, the only regulated gambling website offered in both B.C. and Manitoba, is the only gambling website in North America — and one of a few in the world — that offers dedicated player-health specialists known as GameSense Advisors.
“BCLC has developed an industry-leading brand, GameSense, that is not only adopted and used by SIGA, but also many other gaming organizations across North America. The PlayNow platform has established built-in responsible gaming controls and resources where players can manage their deposit, spend, loss, and self-exclusion options,” Adamko said.
BCLC’s already successful online gaming products in multiple provinces across Canada distinguished it from the pack of other potential vendors in the eyes of SIGA.
“BCLC has a mature, established platform successfully operating in B.C. and Manitoba, and their depth of knowledge in the Canadian market strengthens their position,” Adamko said of why SIGA chose BCLC.
The PlayNow platform also has many unique games and offerings for players included in its base package, and SIGA is also exploring the possibility of custom-developed games for the Saskatchewan offering in the future.
SIGA announced today, along with other stakeholders, that they have officially signed a vendor agreement for BCLC to begin development on the Online Gaming site.https://t.co/x3kzW639I8…@casinoregina @casinomoosejaw @fsinations pic.twitter.com/qsUCLgGDTV
— SIGA (@HomeSIGA) June 6, 2022
On Sept. 23, the Saskatchewan government and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) announced an amendment to the Gaming Framework Agreement, which was originally signed in 1995, to establish the legal grounds for the digital gaming enterprise to be run by SIGA.
FSIN, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, and the province established a 50/50 revenue-sharing agreement, making SIGA the only First Nations operator in Canada to have an online gaming deal with any level of government.
How SIGA plans to evolve
SIGA, established as a nonprofit organization in 1995, operates seven First Nations-owned casinos in Saskatchewan, which has almost 1.2 million residents and borders Montana and North Dakota.
Launching a sportsbook at multiple casino venues in the future is definitely on SIGA’s radar to enhance the brick-and-mortar experience.
“SIGA is presently reviewing floor plan designs for two properties to refresh and remodel for a sportsbook and food and beverage experience,” Adamko said.
Sportsbook lounge rendering courtesy SIGA.
SIGA has developed a plan to hold customer interest in its current properties and avoid loss of traffic to the land-based casinos.
“SIGA will look to expand its entertainment offerings at sites with a strategy of convergence between online and brick-and-mortar,” Adamko explained. “We plan on utilizing a click-and-brick approach to drive customers to our site locations.”
Sport Select and the gray market
The gray market has existed in Canada for decades. It’s estimated that Canadians have been spending $10 billion annually through offshore sites and illegal sports betting operations controlled by organized crime, according to data from the Canadian Gaming Association.
Gray operators such as bet365 already have a loyal following from bettors in Saskatchewan, and SIGA will need to find a way to draw this demographic to its new gaming site.
“Saskatchewan market analysis indicates online gaming and wagering presently exists across the province with gray market operators. SIGA will look to promote its strong established brand and the benefits of its operation to the province of Saskatchewan, community development corporations, and the First Nations Trust. SIGA will also look to be competitive in the online gaming space with its sign-up and frequent bonus promotional offers,” Adamko said.
Another strategy SIGA has is to reduce the amount of friction with the sign-up process, and deposit and withdrawals, as much as possible for new online users.
“The sign-up process for PlayNow is mature and developed for ease of sign-up. SIGA team members will be fully trained and equipped to assist new players on sign-up in person, and will look to leverage PlayNow’s customer call center.”
In addition to competition SIGA faces from gray market operators, sports bettors are also wagering at select retail locations in Saskatchewan using the Sport Select platform, which is regulated by the Western Canadian Lottery Corporation. SIGA says its online sports betting product through PlayNow will offer specialized event wagering such as for the Oscars and U.S. elections, which aren’t available through Sport Select.
Focus on the games you want with more betting options from SPORT SELECT.
Create your ticket at https://t.co/4vU7r1oA1m pic.twitter.com/12Yz50QLBG
— SportSelect (@SportSelect) March 24, 2022
“Sport Select has a niche in the province, and SIGA will look to complement offerings in the sports betting space to compete against the gray market betting, where these monies are leaving the province,” Adamko told Sports Handle last year.
Saskatchewan residents have been estimated to spend an average of $799 per year on government-operated gambling, which is the highest in the country, The Canadian average is $535/adult.