Ontario has finally moved forward with in-person sports-betting experiences at provincial casinos and companies like Great Canadian Entertainment are going full bore installing kiosks in 10 of their casinos.
The industry has been clamoring to be allowed to create true Vegas-style sports-betting lounge experiences as a complement to digital sports betting. That will be a big benefit for the Ontario casinos, which were impacted heavily financially during pandemic closures and restrictions.
But what about other provinces? In Saskatchewan, things are moving a little more slowly on this front. We’ll get a sense of what the demand in the province will be when Dakota Dunes Casino, on Whitecap Dakota First Nation near Saskatoon, opens their new sports lounge in early 2023. That’s according to Alanna Adamko, director of communications for SIGA (Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority), the non-profit organization that operates seven casinos in the province (2,346 slot machines, 25 live table games, and 78 electronic table games).
The only way to bet legally in Saskatchewan now is via PlayNow.com, the online-gaming and sports-betting site, or at kiosks using Western Canada Lottery Corporation’s Sport Select. The PlayNow.com platform is operated by SIGA, managed by SaskGaming and regulated by Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
None of the provincial casinos has a sports books or betting lounge. That also includes SaskGaming-owned casinos (Casinos Regina and Moose Jaw). Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation is the crown corporation, owned by the government of Saskatchewan.
“As it stands right now, there are no immediate plans to establish sports books or betting lounges in our land-based casinos,” said Shanna Schulhauser, a spokesperson with SaskGaming.
Added Adamko, “We’ll look at [kiosks] down the road.”
When the Dakota Dunes lounge opens, patrons will be able sit, watch sports on the big screens, have a meal, and bet via their mobile phones. That’s it for now.
“We just launched online gaming, so at the time we were 100% brick-and-mortar casinos, temporary closures as a result of the pandemic had a huge impact on the bottom line,” she said. “We’ve had a strong fiscal year in 2022-2023 and bringing online new lines of business such as online gaming and sports betting will help increase revenue streams in the future. Sports lounges are just another of many entertainment amenities that SIGA casinos provide, to try to appeal and tailor to different audiences.”
As Canadian Gaming Association president and CEO Paul Burns has said in the past, not every province will follow the Ontario regulation-roll-out model. Ontario currently has 35 licensed operators up and running.
That’s certainly the way things are unfolding in Saskatchewan. So at SIGA, the 80,000-square-foot Dakota Dunes Casino will be the pilot study. They’ll see how that goes and make decisions on where to go from there, when it comes to live, in-person, sports betting.