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SIGA President and CEO Reflects on an Eventful 2023

President and CEO of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, Zane Hansen, has recently given an interview, in which he looked back on 2023. He shared that throughout the year, the First Nations-owned gaming authority saw its operations continue to recover from the unprecedented situation, and that casino performances returned to pre-2020 levels.

Since 1995, SIGA’s objective has been to deliver opportunities for First Nation people and to give back to Saskatchewan. Currently, the regulator runs a total of seven casinos in the province. Those are Bear Claw Casino, Dakota Dunes Casino, Gold Eagle Casino, Gold Horse Casino, Living Sky Casino, Northern Lights Casino, and last but not least Painted Hand Casino.

Business is on the Road to Recovery

In the interview, Mr. Hansen said that 2023 had been the first real solid 12 months for SIGA’s casino operation after the unprecedented situation, which impacted its business unlike anything in the past. He added it was a year of recovery and getting the company back on its feet, and that in that time, they saw its gambling market perform relatively well.

The CEO disclosed that currently SIGA has around 1,400 employees, which is still slightly down from the number before the 2020 closures. Meanwhile, the non-profit also saw growth with its online gambling platform PlayNow, which launched in the province in November 2022. However, the regulated platform is facing some serious competition from gray or illegal operators.

In its first fiscal period, the market had 15,000 customers since its debut and the iGaming sector was profitable at that time. PlayNow reported that it has handled CA$113 million in online slot play from the November start to the end of March 2023, CA$50 million in slot spins, and CA$4.99 million in new wins. With only CA$117k placed on sports wagers.

Bracing for 2024 with New Plans

Regarding planning for the new year, Mr. Hansen shared that SIGA is looking into making some customer experience improvements at some of its casinos. One instance of that is the opening of a sportsbook at Dakota Dunes Casino close to Saskatoon. But that is not all, as the tribal regulator is also seeking to incorporate even more sportsbooks at its other destinations.

The main idea is to expand operations across Saskatchewan. He also shared that in 2024, SIGA is exploring ways to contribute more funds to community initiatives. The CEO and President explained that in 2023, the corporation delivered around CA$2 million to various initiatives across the province, including aid to the First Nation summer and winter games.

Last but not least, Mr. Hanses remarked the regulator is delighted to be able to host again events in the communities where it operates. For instance, last Thanksgiving, Northern Lights Casino organized a powwow in Prince Albert. Meanwhile, Dakota Dunes Casino is also set to host one in January in Saskatoon.

Source: Joel-Hansen, Michael “SIGA president and CEO looks back on 2023 and looks forward to the new yearMBC Radio, December 29, 2023