REGINA — The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the provincial government held a historic signing today, putting pen to paper on an agreement to amend the Gaming Framework Agreement to establish an online casino gaming site in Saskatchewan.
“The FSIN Chiefs-in-Assembly gave the mandate to secure this, and we are excited to finally have achieved it,” said FSIN chief Bobby Cameron.
Cameron signed the amendment alongside provincial Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Jim Reiter. SIGA board chair Reginald Bellerose and Minister Responsible for SaskGaming Don Morgan, among other guests, stood witness.
The new site will be operated by SIGA, in partnership with SaskGaming, with an equal revenue split between the FSIN and the provincial government.
“Half of the profits from this new venture will be distributed by the First Nations Trust and supportive economic development, social development, justice, health, education, recreation, culture, and other First Nations initiatives,” said Reiter.
Such an agreement between jurisdictions, focused on an online site license, is the first of its kind in Canada, said Cameron, and an important step closer to own-source revenue.
“It shows that when you put differences aside for the overall positive economic impacts, we can do this together,” said Cameron.
The revenues collected by FSIN will go directly to 74 Indigenous communities in the province, which Cameron said will be a relief after pandemic lockdowns cut off gaming revenue significantly last year.
“It's an initiative that we have embarked on for six-plus years to finally get to this point,” said Cameron. “We want to take this worldwide and we’re going to. That’s our next mission.”
The gaming site, by design, will be an extension of current licensing agreements with SIGA and feature gambling options in the form of online games and sports betting.
SIGA will hold the exclusive contract rights to the site for five years, at which time reconsideration will take place.
Bellerose said the online gaming options will complement those offered in-house at SIGA casinos, as well as tie into the current loyalty program. Dips in revenue at casinos are expected, said Bellerose, but are not anticipated to be a problem.
“There will be some impact, no doubt about it,” said Bellerose. “But at the bricks-and-mortar, we don’t only promote gambling — we promote an experience, you know, the dining, entertainment.”
Development has yet to begin on the gaming site, said Bellerose. The next steps will see SIGA put out a call to developers, with the goal of launching the site in 2022.
Bellerose said the estimated cost of development will be at-most $10 million, and that the agreement signed guarantees $55 million in revenue to the First Nation Trust, to be distributed to Indigenous communities.
“It’s less capital-intensive than the brick-and-mortar [type of project],” said Bellerose, of the cost.
He indicated that once the developer has been contracted, further details about cost and revenue will be more clear, and further marketing for the site will begin.