[Online poker] is a development that is still being worked on, but is looking like later 2023 or into 2024 before being released First, the good news — Saskatchewan continues to embrace igaming, with online casino gaming and sports betting available through the PlayNow platform since November and live dealer games added this past January.
Now, the bad news — Saskatchewanians are going to have to wait a bit longer for online poker.
“That is a development that is still being worked on, but is looking like later 2023 or into 2024 before being released,” Alanna Adamko, Director of Communications and Media Relations for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), told pokerfuse in an exclusive on Wednesday.
The work in question is being conducted by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which developed the PlayNow platform currently used by SIGA for sports betting and online casino gaming, including live dealer games. The BCLC signed a vendor agreement with SIGA in June 2022.
It was unclear if testing was the cause for the delay or if there was another issue. When asked if she could elaborate, Adamko said, “I think we are too far out yet to provide an official comment on that.”
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Online Poker Already Delayed Twice
The news marks the latest setback for the launch of online poker in Saskatchewan.
The province launched online casino gaming and sports betting on November 3, 2022. Although online poker did not launch on the same day, that was not unexpected — SIGA had warned that poker would likely not be in the initial rollout but would be included in a future update to PlayNow in December.
The update didn’t materialize in December. The next month, as SIGA rolled out live dealer games, Adamko told Poker Industry PRO in an exclusive in January that the player-versus-player option for poker on PlayNow was not currently available, and that the operator was waiting for the BCLC to announce when online poker would launch.
When pressed for a more definitive time frame back in January, Adamko said a launch was expected “sometime in 2023” but did not indicate it would be in the back half of the year, meaning a launch of online poker has been twice delayed.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is the regulator in the province.
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Saskatchewan Not in CPN Yet, Either
More bad news — Saskatchewan can’t become the next Canadian Poker Network (CPN) member until PlayNow launches online poker in the province.
CPN is an informal multi-provincial network powered by an outdated version of IGT software. It launched in February 2011 as a peer-to-peer network between British Columbia, Manitoba, and Québec players. Players in the first two provinces access CPN through the PlayNow platform, while players in Québec use Espace Jeux, an igaming site run by Loto-Québec.
The network shares liquidity among players in all three provinces. Saskatchewan will make it a four-member group, but it will be the smallest member in terms of population — the province has 1.1 million residents, 840k of whom are aged 20 and higher, according to Statistics Canada.
Canada Poker Network Details
|Late 2023 or 2024 3
Notes: (1) MBLL = Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, (2) SIGA = Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, (3) Estimated launch date