Business is booming out in the prairies.
Saskatchewan’s online casino and sportsbook has proved profitable two months in, with over 8,000 players registered and roughly $30 million in wagers so far.
Launched on Nov.3, PlayNow.com – as it is formally known – is the province’s online gaming portal. With 500-plus casino games and an array of sports betting options – including single-event wagering – PlayNow is operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.
Its spokesperson, Alanna Adamko, told PlayCanada, via email they are delighted with the hot start.
“We are quite pleased, we did a lot of research prior to the site launching and compared to other sites with similar demographics, we are ahead in our numbers.”
Over $30 million in wagers placed in PlayNow’s first two months
For November, Adamko said bettors put approximately $12 million into bets. A month later, that number swelled to $18.2 million. Together that’s $30.2 million in the first 60 days of operations.
Granted, numbers are small in comparison to bigger provinces. But they show a great start for the province – especially considering Saskatchewan hoped for $60 million in revenue in its first four years.
Brightening the forecast further is the overall state of gambling in the prairies.
For example, in the 2021 -2022 fiscal year, Manitoba’s online gaming venue hit $82.9 million – a $10 million-plus increase from the previous year.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba use the PlayNow platform – an interface created by British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
With its award-winning responsible gambling safeguards and track record, it is clear Saskatchewan chose a proven entity in the marketplace.
PlayNow has potential to become one of Saskatchewan’s top-earning casinos
Taken together, Saskatchewan should continue to trend upwards in 2023. That has SIGA’s director of igaming, Mike Bellegarde, optimistic for the year ahead.
“The future opportunities are fantastic. This iGaming website has the potential to be one of our largest grossing casinos for the province. You see a lot of communities in the North and they are really actively engaging on the site.”
PlayNow adding live dealers and potential poker app by summer
Regardless, SIGA – and Saskatchewan – remain focused on their journey.
To that end, Adamko assured PlayCanada players could expect new features soon.
“We are planning an announcement for later this week announcing a new live dealer feature that will be available for interactive table games on the PlayNow.com website for our guests.”
“You can actually chat and interact with the dealer as you are playing so it brings a whole other level of interactivity to the experience and customers enjoy it.”
Another surprise could also be in store come summertime, commented Adamko.
“There are tentative plans to have a poker app launched by this summer for PlayNow.com Saskatchewan which would connect players to poker tournaments throughout Canada as part of the Canada Poker Network.”
PlayNow Saskatchewan using “state-of-the-art technology” to protect player info
According to SIGA, the player experience is important – but nothing trumps user safety. After all, gamblers will (likely) only come to play if they feel their money is safe.
On that note, PlayNow uses state-of-the-art technology to protect its players’ information.
Some of those features include:
- Log in protection
- Personal verification questions
- Secure browsing through encryption
- Password protection
- Account protection
- Secure pages
- Email security
- Virus prevention
SIGA: We are not some obscure website
Player safety is particularly relevant of late. Consider that in Ontario, BetMGM Ontario’s player information was hacked less than two months after launching in Ontario.
The incident made national headlines in the gaming industry. Since then, multiple regulatory bodies have stepped in, including the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Concerns are also aplenty with Canada’s grey gambling markets. Yes, numbers in Ontario have dwindled. But overall, the country still must do better.
Bellegarde was brash in his assessment:
“We’re not some obscure website where nobody knows where the head office is. It’s just important that the people of Saskatchewan know that this is where your money is safe.”
First Nations to receive 50% of PlayNow revenue
First Nations in Saskatchewan are equal beneficiaries of the province’s recent online expansion.
In Sept.2021, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations spearheaded a monumental breakthrough for its people by amending the Gaming Framework Agreement. Under the new arrangement, FSIN and the province would split PlayNow revenue 50/50.
FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. Thus, the money will benefit many Indigenous communities scattered throughout the province.
FSIN chief Bobby Cameron noted its significance at the time of the deal.
“This historical partnership, is the first-of-its kind, with a First Nations operator for online gaming with revenue sharing between First Nations and the province.”
Meanwhile, Adamko is hoping that as the site matures, so will its revenue.
“We will continue to innovate and expand our offerings and bring on board more of an interactive live experience for our players as the site continues to mature.”
Saskatchewan adds 13 new millionaires in 2022, plus biggest jackpot in provincial history
Outside of PlayNow, Saskatchewan has added several millionaires to the census recently.
For example, Sask Lotteries recently stated 13 Saskatchewanians became millionaires in 2022 courtesy of lottery wins. And in total, residents claimed more than $200 million in lottery wins between Oct.2, 2021, and April 1, 2022.
However, of the bunch, Dale McEwan – a Regina resident – has to be the most memorable. The family man won a staggering $70 million in April – the largest jackpot in the province’s history by over $10 million.
McEwan bought the ticket on his way to a family ski trip.
“I can’t even describe it. Dreaming about winning and actually winning are two very different feelings. You think you know what it would feel like, but when it’s in your hands, your mind will not stop and you can’t even sleep.”