Wednesday, June 8 2011 : $30 million in wagers is leaving the province every year, claims FSIN chief
The prospect of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan joining British Columbia, Quebec and soon Ontario as a regulated online gambling jurisdiction is again front and centre in local media following the comments of Federation of Saskatchewan Indians chief Guy Lonechild this week.
The head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations is letting the provincial government know it's time to expand gaming in Saskatchewan.
Lonechild has announced his intentions prior to a meeting of the provincial government with First Nation chiefs today (Wednesday), sending a letter that outlines the FSIN's desire to regulate and control online gambling in the province.
The FSIN chief says that the longer Saskatchewan drags its heels the more revenue will be lost.
"Approximately $30 million is leaving the province every year because of other gambling sites that are offered by other provinces," Chief Lonechild commented, suggesting that the positive impact that money could have for First Nations people could be substantial.
Lonechild could come up against stiff opposition from the province's gaming minister, Ken Cheveldayoff, who said this week: "Online gaming is not a top priority for the government right now. It's something that we've agreed to work together on and we've agreed to look at best practices across the country.
"Eventually we're going to have to make a decision on it but it's not something that's at the top of the agenda right now."
The FSIN has other proposals concerning land gambling expansion, suggesting that the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) should be the only body operating terrestrial casinos inside the provincial borders. That would entail the provincial government relinquishing control of Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw, the only casinos SIGA doesn't currently oversee in Saskatchewan.
Again the First Nation leaders are likely to come into contention with minister Cheveldayoff, who says those discussions will be had but the two casinos are absolutely not for sale.
"Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw are part of Gaming Corporation, they operate in an efficient manner, and they provide a handsome return for the people of Saskatchewan and they'll continue to do so," the minister observed, but again he stressed that the issue was not one of urgency.
The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority was created by the FSIN to operate six casinos: Bear Claw in Carlyle, Dakota Dunes in Saskatoon, Gold Eagle in North Battleford, Living Sky in Swift Current, Northern Lights in Prince Albert and Painted Hand in Yorkton.
The province, under SaskGaming Corp., owns and operates Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw.