Launch Of Saskatchewan Online Casino Drives Record Profits

Written By Matthew Lomon on July 24, 2023

Following a difficult stretch triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority rebounded with record-breaking profits in 2022-23.

The announcement came on July 19, as part of SIGA releasing its annual report for the 2022-23 fiscal year that ended March 31, 2023. Overall, the gaming authority registered $292.6 million in revenue and a net income of $126 million. For context, the profit figure is up $57.8 million or 84.8% from $68.2 million in 2021-22.

“SIGA had the strongest year in our history as we came out of the pandemic with the most profitable year in its over quarter-century history,” said SIGA president and CEO Zane Hansen.

The banner performance comes on the heels of SIGA’s recent venture into the Canadian online casino and sports betting business. On top of operating seven Saskatchewan retail casinos, SIGA also introduced PlayNow, an online gambling site on Nov. 3, 2022.

PlayNow’s online casino a serious draw for SIGA

If the PlayNow name sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The original site, which was first launched by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, is where SIGA found its inspiration. In fact, Saskatchewan’s PlayNow site was developed by the BCLC and employs a strikingly-similar interface.

Since its debut late last year, the Prairie province’s version has emerged as a legitimate source of online wagering. According to SIGA officials, the company has attracted more than 15,000 clients since then, and was in the black in its first fiscal year of operation.

As far as the type of wagering activity, sports betting or casino games, the results show a significant skew towards the latter. Despite becoming the lone legal online sports betting provider in Saskatchewan, PlayNow’s lines only generated $117,00o in wagers from November to the end of the fiscal year in March.

Conversely, the casino side dominated the action over that same window. Per SIGA’s annual report, PlayNow garnered $113 million in online slot wagers, $50 million in slot spins, and $4.995 million in net win.

So far, PlayNow’s numbers are certainly promising, especially on the casino side. But Hansen said there’s still plenty of room for growth.

“SIGA will focus in the next year on the development of PlayNow’s customer base through enhanced marketing capabilities and partnerships with other gaming stakeholders in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Record profits mean that much more for local communities

Operating as a non-profit organization, SIGA reinvests all net revenues directly back into Saskatchewan. For that reason, earning record profits goes a long way in supporting the communities in which SIGA calls home.

The distribution of SIGA’s profits breaks down as such:

  • 50% goes to the First Nations Trust (funds are then spread around the 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan)
  • 25% to Community Development Corporations, which reinvests the funds into local community initiatives
  • 25% to the provincial General Revenue Fund

SIGA currently operates as the only First Nations owned company to have a 50-50 sharing agreement for online gaming revenue in Canada.

“By ensuring that we have a seat at the table in this new online landscape, SIGA is securing future economic opportunities and expansion for our people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, in the annual report.

“We will continue to carry out our Inherent and Treaty Right to self-determination through active participation in the economy and fulfilling SIGA’s mandate of job creation, economic development, and own-source revenue for First Nations.”

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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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