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New SIGA Online Casino and Betting App Set to Launch This Fall

Single-event sports betting set to boost interest in online gambling app, says President and CEO Zane Hansen

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Saskatchewan residents will soon have a regulated option to place their bets online as the development of a one-of-a-kind gaming platform is underway.

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The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) announced Monday that it has selected the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to develop the online gaming application. It will customize its PlayNow.com platform for the Saskatchewan market.

“This is a project that we’re really excited about,” SIGA President and CEO Zane Hansen said in an interview Monday. “We have seen success in other provinces. So we think that’s just going to be a great offering to bring in and really heighten the experience here in Saskatchewan.

Scheduled to be ready this fall, the app will offer typical casino games, such as poker, blackjack and slots, as well as single-event sports betting.

It was developed in partnership with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the provincial government.

Half of the proceeds will be distributed through the First Nations Trust for First Nations initiatives, while the other half will go to provincial revenues for health, education and infrastructure.

SaskGaming will be responsible for driving and managing the online gaming platform, while SIGA will be in charge of operations.

When it was first announced in September, FSIN leader Bobby Cameron said the partnership represented a degree of reconciliation.

“This is reconciliation at its finest, folks,” he told a news conference.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations leader Bobby Cameron speaks at a press conference in September 2021 about the creation of a new <a class=online gambling application.” class=”embedded-image__image lazyload” src=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/leaderpost/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/a-press-conference-3.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288″ srcset=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/leaderpost/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/a-press-conference-3.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288, https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/leaderpost/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/a-press-conference-3.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=576 2x” height=”750″ loading=”lazy” width=”1000″/>
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations leader Bobby Cameron speaks at a press conference in September 2021 about the creation of a new online gambling application. Photo by Michael Bell /Michael Bell

SIGA, a nonprofit that operates casinos in seven locations across the province, estimates the app will initially bring in $20 million to $25 million a year.

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Once the application is launched, it will benefit from a five-year exclusivity to offer regulated online services.

Other unlicensed online platforms will exist in what is described as the ‘grey market’, but Hansen believes SIGA’s app will have an advantage because it is licensed.

He explained that users will have reassurance and certainty as they play on a platform that follows rigorous standards.

“Treating and recognizing our customers, and paying them promptly will be unrivaled on that front,” Hansen said. “I think there are a lot of benefits.”

Hansen was unable to disclose the amount that will be spent building the platform due to confidentiality considerations in the RFP process.

However, with the booming single-event sports betting market, he believes interest in the app will grow.

Canada legalized single-event sports betting in August 2021, giving provinces the authority to regulate these gambling activities.

In British Columbia, where single-event sports betting took off, the BCLC reported that residents placed more than $25 million in wagers within two months of its legalization.

“The single-event betting capabilities of the PlayNow platform are truly first-class,” Hansen said. “When you look at the content and what it brings, it’s really interesting to see. They have good partners who work with them to bring a very good solution.

BCLC already provides PlayNow.com to Manitobans through the province’s liquor and lotteries agency.

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According to PlayCanada, which offers analysis and news on the Canadian gambling market, it estimates that legal sports betting in the country could potentially generate $25 billion a year if single-event sports betting takes off in every province.

jsimes@postmedia.com

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