The Government of Saskatchewan’s gaming sector is ushering in a new era.
Come April 1, 2023, the province is expected to launch a new crown corporation dubbed Lotteries and Gaming Saskatchewan. Its main purpose will be to consolidate the management and oversight of multiple gaming activities. Casinos, video lottery terminals, lotteries and online gaming are some of the top priorities.
Saskatchewan – already laden with one of the country’s most complex gaming infrastructures – said some reshuffling is in order to make room for LGS.
However, in the long-run, a Saskatchewan Crown Investments Corporation spokesperson told PlayCanada, via email, it will be worth it for two main reasons.
“Digital gaming, which will continue to change the landscape of the industry, has made it more important than ever for Saskatchewan to be able to look at the industry holistically.
“[Also, there is], a desire to separate gaming regulation from gaming oversight, in alignment with gaming best practices.”
LGS to take over VLTs, online gaming
In Saskatchewan, for the everyday bettor, the province’s gambling scene can be a bit difficult to follow.
For instance, here are some of the major bodies – each handling a different function of the sector – involved:
- Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation
- Western Canada Lottery Corporation
- Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority
- Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
LGS’s purpose is to simplify it all.
Moving forward, the new Crown corporation will take over the province’s VLT programs and online gaming. Previously, SLGA and SaskGaming handled both fields, respectively.
Saskatchewan casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw to remain under SaskGaming
When it comes to the rest of the province’s gaming elements, LGS will mainly take on a supervisory role.
For instance, SaskGaming will be reconfigured as a wholly-owned subsidiary of LGS. However, the Corporation will remain the operator of the province’s main two casinos, Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw.
Meanwhile, lotteries will continue to operate under SaskLotteries and WCLC – but under LGS’s supervision.
Similarly, SIGA’s casinos remain under its operation but with SLGA and LGS rotating oversight duties.
Saskatchewan’s CIC spokesperson said chances are players will not even notice the changes.
“In the near term, the addition of LGS will appear seamless to Saskatchewan players.”
LGS arrival one year in the making
Over the past 15 years, the province says it has re-evaluated its provincial structure “several times.” Although, it never pulled the trigger on substantial change until most recently.
The CIC said the latest review “started within the past year” and gradually evolved into its announced changes.
Deliberations were aplenty prior to the change.
“In the longer term, we see LGS fostering greater collaboration among operators of gaming, which may lead to innovations in how gaming entertainment is responsibly delivered, such as cross promotion, sharing resources on responsible gambling, etc.”
Historic First Nations agreement still intact
Not everything will change, however.
For instance, all beneficiaries of net gaming and lottery income remains the same. Untouched are the province’s gaming and lottery operators.
Along those same lines, in Sept. 2021, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the province signed into a historic agreement for the gaming industry.
At the time, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron called it the “first-of-its-kind not only in Saskatchewan, but Canada.”
Much of the excitement centred around the pair amending the previously standing Gaming Framework Agreement. In the revamped package, the Federation and province ensured a 50/50 revenue split on the pending launch of a new online gaming site, PlayNow.com, that was coming to Saskatchewan.
LGS has no impact on Gaming Framework Agreement, PlayNow revenue split
Certainly, given the previously tumultuous First Nations relations with the Canadian government, one would be within reason to raise concerns regarding how LGS’s presence would impact such a deal.
FSIN and SIGA did not respond to PlayCanada for comment by the time of publication. However, the CIC said there is nothing to worry about.
“The content of the agreement won’t change; however, LGS will be the government partner rather than the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation.”
First Nations have wanted separation of gaming management and regulation
Regardless, since PlayNow’s announcement multiple pieces have fallen into place. For example, Sask.Gaming manages the platform. SIGA is the operator and SLGA is the regulator.
It remains unclear if FSIN knew the province was planning on launching a new Crown corporation when signing the deal. Nonetheless, CIC said, ultimately, both the province and First Nations serve to benefit from the restructuring.
“From the Government of Saskatchewan’s perspective there are opportunities in this organizational structure for greater collaboration between operators, which should benefit the industry as a whole.
“When the industry is more profitable there is more revenue available for all beneficiaries. Separation of gaming management and regulation has been a policy position of the FSIN for some time.”
Saskatchewan continues strong push into gambling sector
Ultimately one would think the bottom line in all of this would be money. If LGS’s addition can earn everyone more, the hassle will be worth the effort. After all, SaskGaming is only two years removed from suffering its first net loss (-$13.4 million) in its organization’s history.
Granted, they did bounce back last year at a $19.1 million net profit. But even that was below its pre-pandemic numbers when it regularly cleared $20 million.
Given the circumstances (i.e., coming out of COVID), it should be considered a victory. But now with an online sportsbook, casino and some added organization, one would think the bar has been set even higher for the 2022 – 2023 fiscal campaign.