Launch of PlayNow’s Online Poker in Saskatchewan Delayed

SIGA confirms the delay of online poker in Saskatchewan until late 2023 or 2024, impacting the province’s inclusion in the Canadian Poker Network (CPN).
Two male plains bison on the prairie in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. Launch of PlayNow's Online Poker in Saskatchewan Delayed
By
July 21, 2023

[Online poker in Saskatchewan] is a development that is still being worked on, but is looking like later 2023 or into 2024 before being released A spokesperson for a tribal gaming operator in Saskatchewan said online poker is still coming to the province but that a launch will likely be delayed into later this year or perhaps into next year.

One year ago this month, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) announced plans to launch the PlayNow platform for iGaming in the province by November 2022 — offering customers a choice for online casino gaming and sports betting. Online poker was expected to launch later.

This past January, Alanna Adamko, SIGA’s Director of Communications and Media Relations, told Poker Industry PRO in an exclusive that the player-versus-player option for poker on PlayNow was not currently available, and that the operator was waiting for the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which developed PlayNow, to announce when online poker in Saskatchewan would launch.

Alas, it won’t be anytime soon.

“That is a development that is still being worked on, but is looking like later 2023 or into 2024 before being released,” Adamko told pokerfuse in an exclusive on Wednesday.

When asked if she could elaborate on what has been causing the delay or if she could confirm that testing was ongoing, Adamko said, “I think we are too far out yet to provide official comment on that.”

Live dealer games arrived on the PlayNow platform in Saskatchewan last January.

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Saskatchewan’s CPN Debut Delayed

The delay in launching online poker in Saskatchewan means the province will also be delayed in becoming the next member of the Canadian Poker Network (CPN).

The CPN is a multi-provincial network that launched in February 2011 as a peer-to-peer network between players in British Columbia and Manitoba using the PlayNow platform and players in Québec using Espace Jeux, an igaming site run by Loto-Québec.

While the network is powered by an old version of IGT software, it also provides shared liquidity for players in all three provinces.

Saskatchewan will be the smallest province in CPN in terms of population. According to Statistics Canada, the province has 1.1 million residents, 840k of whom are aged 20 and higher. That means that once Saskatchewan joins, it will only account for about 7% of the network’s total population (16 million) or those aged 20 and higher (12.6 million).

SIGA Hit Record Profits Last Year

SIGA’s efforts were rewarded as a return of revenues to pre-pandemic levels, combined with operational efficiencies, resulted in record-breaking earnings for SIGA. News that online poker in Saskatchewan will be delayed came as SIGA reported record profits for its 2022-2023 fiscal year (FY).

The tribal operator reported CAD $292.6 million (USD $222.1 million) in revenue for FY 2022-2023, up 49.4% year-over-year (CAD $195.8 million). Net income hit a record CAD $126 million (USD $95.6 million), which marked a year-over-year gain of 45.9%.

“This past year was an important time of recovery for SIGA from the pandemic, as we launched PlayNow.com in Saskatchewan and kept a steady focus on building back our most critical resources — our markets, our employees, and our finances,” said SIGA President & CEO Zane Hansen.

“SIGA’s efforts were rewarded as a return of revenues to pre-pandemic levels, combined with operational efficiencies, resulted in record-breaking earnings for SIGA.”

SIGA is a non-profit corporation that reinvests all net revenue back into the province. The First Nations Trust receives 50% of net casino revenue, while 25% is allocated to local community development corporations, and the remaining 25% goes to the provincial General Revenue Fund.

The regulator in the province is the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA).

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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