Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) spokesperson Alanna Adamko says a big priority for the organization in operating the province’s regulated PlayNow.com Saskatchewan casino and sports-betting site (celebrating its first anniversary this week) is to further weed out the gray market, which SIGA estimates does in the millions in terms of revenue in the province.
SIGA, which launched in 1996, operates seven casinos in the province, as well as PlayNow.com, the only legal online-gaming and sports-betting site in in the province. SIGA, a non-profit corporation, reinvests all net revenue back into Saskatchewan.
According to the 2022-23 annual report (fiscal year ending March 31, 2023), since that initial launch in November 2022, PlayNow.com has acquired more than 15,000 players, generating $113 million in online slot wagers, $50 million in slot spins, $5 million in net win, and $117,000 in sports bets (with the most popular sports being hockey, basketball, and football).
CDC: How has the first year for PlayNow.com gone in Saskatchewan from an operations perspective?
We’re pleased with the launch and first year of operations. As of November 2023, we have more than 22,000 site registrations. We believe that further refining our registration process and customizing the game experience for our players will result in increased revenues. In 2023-24, we’re continuing to build market awareness in Saskatchewan of the PlayNow brand and we’re anticipating some strong numbers to report on for next spring.
CDC: Where do you think it needs improvement? What do you see as its full potential?
One area we’ve improved is registration. We’ve streamlined this process and made it easier for players to register. One advancement we’re anticipating coming in this next year will be biometrics registration, which will further streamline the process, where players can upload their registered identification and verify using the camera on their phone or laptop.
We’re also looking at how we can better integrate the experience between our land-based casinos and the online-gaming experience, being able to better customize the games options to reflect what the player would be playing in their community casino.
CDC: What’s the split in revenue between sports betting and digital casinos?
Currently, on PlayNow.com, we’re seeing around 86% of our online revenue is slot play, 10% is live games, and sport-betting revenue makes up 4%. The most popular sport to bet on is hockey, followed by football, basketball, and baseball.
CDC: What does the first year tell you about the appetite for regulated igaming in the province?
People want to play on a site that they trust, knowing safeguards are in place protecting their privacy and money. We’re currently doing a bit of an awareness campaign across the province, educating people, with a bit of humor, on the dangers of offshore gambling and why they should be gambling with PlayNow.com.
CDC: How much is the gray market for igaming a factor in Saskatchewan?
We don’t have an exact figure, but based on industry reports in Canada and the United States, it would be safe to estimate in the millions. We hope through more education and awareness, Saskatchewan residents will make the smart and safe choice of playing on PlayNow.com, where they know they’re safe on a regulated site and where all net revenue is reinvested back into the province.
CDC: Have you been following the Ontario igaming model at all and how OLG has said how the open regulated model has benefited their business? Do you have any thoughts on that?
SIGA has been a trusted name for over 25 years in the casino industry and we’ve built a strong community reputation as a non-profit corporation, reinvesting all net proceeds back into the province. In 2017, SIGA had already hit over $1 billion in distributions back to Saskatchewan. We do know that our home-grown model works best for our province.
We’re also the only First Nation organization with a 50-50 provincial revenue-sharing model, where 50% of revenue is going directly back into First Nations communities. Part of our mandate and the existence of SIGA is to provide First Nation employment and economic opportunities in the province.