Saturday June 18 2011 : Declining revenues call for alternative revenue streams
The call by Saskatchewan First Nation tribes for the legalization on online gambling in the Canadian province has been given added momentum this week by the release of statistics showing a decline in revenues at Indian land casinos.
Revenues declined for the second consecutive year, requiring the Saskatchewan Party cabinet to approve a Cdn$46.3-million payment to the First Nations Trust, down from Cdn$48.2 million last year.
The money is allocated using a formula based on the projected profits of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and government-owned Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. land casinos.
Ken Cheveldayoff, the minister responsible for both First Nations and Metis Relations and Saskatchewan Gaming Corp., said there was a slight decline in the government's projections and a larger drop in SIGA's numbers.
Cheveldayoff said the trend may indicate a need to "revitalize" the gaming industry in the province with new revenue streams from fresh machines and Internet gambling.
The minister revealed that although the number of customers to land casinos in the province has remained the same, individual spend had decreased.
"Gaming is an industry that you totally have to be on top of at every opportunity and refresh games wherever necessary," the minister said this week.
"We've got the whole idea of online gaming. We know that's increasing and taking some market share. We're going to have to look at that even closer," he said.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations have been pushing the Saskatchewan Party government to move forward on online gaming in partnership with First Nations, claiming there is an estimated Cdn$30 million in revenues being lost to internet gambling sources outside the province.
The provincial government has promised to investigate the possibilities of introducing internet gambling, as has already been done in other Canadian provinces like Quebec, British Columbia and (next year) Ontario.