Kevin Waugh, the Saskatoon-Grasswood MP says he is unhappy with how the local government is “dropping the ball” in his own province. Waugh is the man whose private member’s bill smoothed the way for single-event sports betting in Canada.
The Conservative MP is especially dissatisfied with the sluggish pace of implementation of a legalized sports betting market in Saskatchewan.
According to Waugh, in a balance of winners and losers, his province is losing the battle.
Passing the Buck
The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act was passed by the Canadian Senate late in June last year. It officially came into force on August 27, 2021.
The act had amended the country’s Criminal Code in such a way that provinces can now operate and manage single-event sports betting at a provincial level, and for any sport apart from horse racing.
Since the passing of the legislation, provinces like British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta have benefited in massive ways from the change. However, according to Waugh, this has not been the case for Saskatchewan.
Waugh said since the passing of the bill, local government officials have done nothing with the file. The only action they’ve taken has been to pass it on to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA).
BC Leading the Way
In September last year, Saskatchewan’s provincial government agreed to a new gaming framework with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. Following this arrangement, SIGA was tasked with the responsibility of developing an online gaming and betting site. Plus, they were given the authority to launch sportsbooks in their casinos.
Waugh is also bemoaning the fact that it isn’t yet possible to wager on single-sporting events other than via Sport Select. The odds, he claimed, are not nearly up to scratch.
The MP made mentioned the fact that by November last year, BC residents had wagered more than $25 million on single-event sports via the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).
He added that many Saskatchewan residents continue to support offshore betting sites due to the lack of options back home. This will likely cause a delay when it comes time to win those customers over to supporting home-grown products instead.
SIGA “Working on it”
According to Lionel Tootoosis, VP of operations at SIGA, the organization has been working full steam with several of its partners on online gaming standards and policies.
Tootoosis said it is crucial that everything is properly in place before operations are launched online. He said the current goal is to launch a new online gaming site in the fall.