Canada’s Saskatchewan province will soon have its first-ever regulated online gambling site following a partnership between the Saskatchewan provincial government and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). At the signing ceremony, which took place at First Nations University of Canada on 21st September 2021, it was announced that Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) would be the official provincial online betting operator, whereas SaskGaming will be managing it. SIGA will now put out a request for proposal (RFP) to develop an online gaming app that is anticipated to be ready in six months.
Saskatchewan joins a couple of other provinces like Ontario, which have of late been taking steps to legalize online gambling managed by local platforms. The province’s online gambling platform will now be part of dozens of online casino CA sites that currently serve the Canadian market to offer locals as much variety as possible. Slowly by slowly, Canada is realizing the potential that online gambling has as a revenue stream and a safe avenue for entertainment provided it is done right.
Baby Steps for Saskatchewan’s Online Gambling
Saskatchewan is Canada’s most active province when it comes to gambling. At the moment, SIGA, which runs 7 land-based casinos in the area, is the largest shareholder in the Saskatchewan gambling industry. Interestingly, online gambling has often been frowned upon despite the community’s avid gambling culture, which generates a handsome revenue amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.
This same skeptical attitude towards online gambling has for a long time prevailed on a national level. Still, Canadian gambling fans have not been deterred from betting online on offshore and international sites. The fact that Canadians have been looking elsewhere for gambling action is one of the reasons why the provinces are gradually warming up to the idea.
The current agreement is that the site will run exclusively without local competitor sites for 5 years. Of course, after these five years, the site will have paved the way for more Saskatchewan-owned gambling platforms. Jim Reiter, the SIGA minister, noted that SIGA had earned a reputation as a top-quality gaming organization and that it was only logical that they would be the go-to partner in the new venture.
Significance to the First Nations Communities
The Saskatchewan community boasts a rich cultural heritage that is focused on improving the lives of its citizens. In particular, the First Nations indigenous tribes are given special consideration in the prairie’s economic activities, including gambling. SIGA and the FSIN are two major gambling entities that seek to benefit the First Nations communities. The revenue generated from the new site will be shared 50/50 by both the FSIN and the provincial authorities. The FSIN share will be set aside in a trust to fund initiatives geared towards helping the 74 First Nations communities.
SIGA chair Reginald Bellerose remarked that the transition to online gambling was an essential step for SIGA in the evolving gaming industry. It would also facilitate diversifying entertainment options for customers. With this initiative, gambling revenues are expected to significantly go up, hence positively impacting the ongoing projects in Saskatchewan. The organization has projects in the social, economic, health, education, recreation, justice, employment and cultural sectors, among others – all centered around Saskatchewan’s indigenous people.
Canadian Provinces Are Free to Establish Their Betting Laws
2022 will set a new precedence in the Saskatchewan gambling market that has otherwise been mainly land-based. In the past, online gambling regulations in Canada have been stringent, although they generally differ from province to province since each prairie has its distinct jurisdiction.
The main point of reference for gambling in Canada has been Section 201 and 202 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which doesn’t mention online gambling at all, thereby providing a gray area when it comes to gambling on offshore platforms. As a result, residents have relied on international platforms to bet online.
Fortunately, in a bid to embrace a modernized gambling sector, the Canadian national government passed Bill C-218 in August, which repealed existing laws on single sports betting. On top of that, the said bill allowed the provinces to regulate sports betting as they saw fit. Right after, the provinces switched to high gear and started their legislative processes to make the activity legal or expand existing law. Saskatchewan is one such province, and all eyes are on them to see how much better gaming will get in the region, especially after the first 5 years of a restricted market.