Saskatchewan Conducts Investigation of Online Gambling

Indian Gaming Authority commissioned for the project

Based on the reports of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, there has been an ongoing investigation of the pros and cons of internet gambling, conducted by Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, one of the Canadian province's fifty biggest companies with Cdn$200 million in revenue and Cdn$60 million in profits. It was stated that SIGA was seeking "...information on the products offered by suppliers that could assist SIGA in conducting research on Internet gambling."

Apart from two provincial government-run land casinos, Saskatchewan has six First Nations land casinos, whose tribes appointed it to conduct the investigation jointly with the province. It is assumed that the reason for this is a potential venture into internet gambling.

Online gambling in Canada has experienced a real bloom in 2010, as British Columbia launched its PlayNow.com online offering, Loto Quebec is about to do the same, and Ontario government spokesmen has implied that the province may also venture into the industry.

A key element in international online gambling has been the Kahnawake First Nation enclave, which can pride itself with a hi-tech hosting centre and licensing system monitored by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Hundreds of online gambling sites use this ultimately contemporary facility.

In the past years, there have been confrontational incidents which somewhat marred the history of tribal gambling, but in the end, the result was a positive one: this incited a more collaborative approach between First Nations and provincial government that sees the government land casinos providing the tribal bands with 25 percent of the profits.

It was reported by the Regina Leader Post that the first time the idea of developing online gambling sites and a partnership with the province appeared, was in August 2009, and it came from Grand Chief Guy Lonechild, who back then said: "We have yet further study to do,” adding that it was one of the first issues discussed between him and provincial premier Brad Wall. "But you can bet we'd be looking at that opportunity."

A representative of the Saskatchewan Party in the Legislative Assembly, Ken Cheveldayoff stated that it is going ahead with initial research, apparently in addition to that in which the provincial government is working on in partnership with SIGA. He described online gaming as a billion-dollar industry in Canada with $30- to $40-million occurring in Saskatchewan, adding that the next step would be finding out how much of that money can be captured by those working within this province. However, he did not discuss revenue sharing possibilities with SIGA.

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