On Thursday, the playnow.com platform went live in Saskatchewan, bringing legal online gambling to the province for the first time.
The website, operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), is touted as the first legal option in the province. This means that it was and is now illegal to use any other site to gamble in Saskatchewan.
Many people in the province, whether they know it or not, have used illegal sites, including several in Ontario, where online gambling has recently exploded.
But there still seems to be a gray area as it is unclear who is responsible for investigating illegal online gambling.
Although SIGA is the operator, a spokesperson said he was not responsible for enforcement and said it would be the responsibility of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA).
An SLGA spokesperson said they only regulate licensed games in the province, so if there was a problem with someone who had a license then they could investigate and impose penalties if necessary. . But the authority has no regulatory authority for unlicensed games.
“Gaming activities which are not regulated by the SLGA are a matter for the police,” the SLGA said in a statement.
However, when asked, the Regina Police Department said it does not regulate or investigate online gambling.
A spokesperson said the service had a long partnership with the SLGA and that the SLGA would generally investigate any allegations of illegal alcohol and gambling activity. Regina Police will work with the SLGA when and if there are “enforcement activities” such as arrests that need to be made based on their investigation.
Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Justice has also handed over responsibility for the investigation to the police. He said if police arrest someone, the case will be reviewed and prosecuted if it meets the standard – that charges are reviewed if there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction and if prosecution is in the public interest.
Saskatchewan website launch
The new playnow site has a very good set of offers for those who want to play online, according to Zane Hansen, president and CEO of SIGA.
He said he has a full platform of traditional casino games and keno.
“And a very good offering for sports betting, including single event betting that was approved by federal law last year,” Hansen explained.
The site is only offered via an online browser at this time; there are no apps yet.
Proceeds from the site will be shared in the same way as other gaming products in the province: a 50-50 split between the province and the First Nations Trust created by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
“And that benefits all First Nations communities in the province,” Hansen said.
The site also has GameSense advisors, which Hansen called a security feature for online gaming.
“All customers must also register and have an account on the site. And then you can have a number of limits and you can set your spending limit and how long you play, so it’s really well set up that way for a good responsible experience,” he explained.
Hansen said this was something that SIGA officials really liked about playnow when looking for a supplier.
“They were the only online gambling site in North America that had live advisors on site that you could access anytime, so that was a really great feature,” Hansen said.
In December, Hansen said SIGA would launch table games where you play against a real live dealer online.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can bring to our customers,” Hansen said.