Tribes entrust investgation to provincial Indian Gaming Authority
The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, one of the Canadian province's fifty biggest companies with Cdn$200 million in revenue and Cdn$60 million in profits, is investigating the pros and cons of internet gambling, according to an announcement in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix over the weekend. The advertisement noted that SIGA was seeking "…information on the products offered by suppliers that could assist SIGA in conducting research on Internet gambling."
In addition to two provincial government-run land casinos, Saskatchewan has six First Nations land casinos, and it is understood that these tribes have commissioned SIGA for the research project in partnership with the province, presumably with a venture into internet gambling in mind.
2010 has seen remarkable developments in Canadian online gambling, with British Columbia launching its PlayNow.com online offering and Loto Quebec about to do the same, and Ontario government spokesmen hinting that that province may also be entering the sector.
The Kahnawake First Nation enclave less than an hour's drive from Montreal has been a key element in international online gambling for years and boasts a hi-tech hosting centre and licensing system overseen by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Hundreds of online gambling sites use the ultra modern and high security facility.
In Saskatchewan, the history of tribal gambling was marred by confrontational incidents in years past, but these had a positive ultimate outcome, resulting in a more collaborative approach between First Nations and provincial government that sees the government land casinos providing the tribal bands with 25 percent of the profits.
The Regina Leader Post reports that the idea of developing online gambling sites and a partnership with the province was first broached last August by Grand Chief Guy Lonechild.
"We have yet further study to do," Lonechild said back then, adding that it was one of the first issues discussed between him and provincial premier Brad Wall. "But you can bet we'd be looking at that opportunity."
This week Ken Cheveldayoff of the Saskatchewan Party in the Legislative Assembly confirmed that it is going ahead with initial research, apparently in addition to that in which the provincial government is working in partnership with SIGA.
Cheveldayoff described online gaming as a billion-dollar industry in Canada with $30- to $40-million occurring in Saskatchewan. The next step is to find out how much of that money can be captured by those working within this province, he said. He did not discuss revenue sharing possibilities with SIGA.