Once poker launches on our platform, we will be a part of the network Saskatchewan will join three other Canadian provinces in a multi-jurisdictional compact for online poker as early as December, pokerfuse has learned.
In an exclusive, a spokeswoman for the non-profit Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) put a timeframe on when PlayNow, an igaming platform developed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), will add online poker in Saskatchewan.
“Plans are for poker to be launched in the next phase, potentially in December,” Alanna Adamko, SIGA’s director of communications and media relations, told pokerfuse on Friday.
PlayNow will go to go live in the province for online casino gaming and sports betting on November 3, Poker Industry PRO reported last week.
Saskatchewan Will Become CPN Member
Once online poker is added to the PlayNow platform in Saskatchewan, the province will become a member of the Canada Poker Network (CPN), an informal interprovincial compact that currently includes British Columbia (BC), Manitoba, and Québec.
The three provinces in CPN share their player pools and enjoy shared liquidity. Saskatchewan will join them.
“Once poker launches on our platform, we will be a part of the network,” Adamko said.
CPN was formed in February 2011 and is powered by an outdated version of IGT software. The network started when BCLC started offering peer-to-peer poker to Espace Jeux, an igaming site run by Loto-Québec. BC and Manitoba share liquidity, and players in both provinces use PlayNow to access the network.
Canada Poker Network Details
|Province||Poker Site||BCLC Partner||Launch Date|
|British Columbia||PlayNow||N/A||October 2004|
|Manitoba||PlayNow||MBLL 1||January 2013|
|Québec||Espace Jeux||Loto-Québec||February 2011|
|Saskatchewan||PlayNow||SIGA 2||December 2022 3|
Notes: (1) MBLL = Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, (2) SIGA = Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, (3) Estimated launch date
Small Province Could Have a Large Impact on Network
An agreement between the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation (aka SaskGaming) in September 2021 gave SIGA the authority to operate PlayNow in the province.
SaskGaming is a crown corporation owned by the provincial government. Meanwhile, SIGA operates seven tribal casinos in Saskatchewan.
SIGA entered a vendor agreement with the BCLC in June 2021. The agreement called for SIGA to operate a custom PlayNow skin for online casino gaming and sports betting in the province, and once it launches on November 3 will be the only legal regulated site for both verticals.
The vendor agreement also called for the BCLC to provide online poker on the PlayNow platform.
According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan will be the least populated province in the CPN. It has 1.1 million residents — 840k of whom are aged 20 and higher. Saskatchewan will only account for about 7% of the gaming compact’s total population (16 million) or those aged 20 and higher (12.6 million).
But the population metric doesn’t tell the entire story. Data from the Saskatchewan Problem Gambling Helpline (SPGH) show Saskatchewanians love to gamble. According to the SPGH, Saskatchewanians aged 18 and higher spend an average of CAD $799 annually on gaming sites regulated by the government — the highest rate in all of Canada. The Canadian average is CAD $535 per adult by comparison.
Bringing this onto a regulated platform that offers multi-province online poker could attract many players.
Could Ontario Also Join the Network?
This influx would certainly be welcome: Data from GameIntel, available on the PRO Data platform, show CPN averaged 188 concurrent cash game seats in 2021, but this has fallen to 158 this year to date. It is now dwarfed by the new Ontario online poker market, which opened its doors to commercial businesses earlier this year.
And there is still the chance that an Ontario operator could join the Canada Poker Network. The state-owned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) launched online gaming back in 2015, and stated at the time it planned to launch poker on CPN.
Regulated online poker rooms in Ontario
|Operator||AGCO License?||iGO Authorized?||Launch Status|
|888poker||Yes||Yes||Launched on April 4|
|BetMGM||Yes||Yes||Launched April 5|
|partypoker||Yes||Yes||Launched April 12|
|bwin||Yes||Yes||Launched April 12|
|PokerStars||Yes||Yes||Launched June 28|
|GGPoker/WSOP||Yes||Yes||Launched September 30|
This never materialized, but the option remains. Despite all the foreign competition, OLG continues to offer its competing online platform offering sports, casino, and lottery products to Ontarians.
In July of this year, PRO was told by an OLG spokesperson that it “[continues] to examine the best way to offer poker games to our customers,” but added, “at this point, we do not have anything to announce.”
If OLG were to expand into poker, it would be a fascinating addition to an already-bustling market. There are currently four online poker rooms, and one of these, BetMGM, also hosts two sister skins on its network, bwin and partypoker.
There could be a fifth addition coming this year, with various possible brands that could coalescence around an iPoker Ontario network, including Betsafe, Bet365, Coolbet and NorthStar all possibly interested.
That would look like quite a saturated market already, but OLG would be a unique proposal: The only online poker room that connects with networks in other provinces. With Saskatchewan and Ontario connecting to CPN, it would create a five-province network reaching almost 24 million Canadian residents.
Hypothetical Canada Poker Network (includes Ontario)
|Province||Poker Site||Provider||Population Aged 20+ 1|
|British Columbia||PlayNow||BCLC||4 million|
|Manitoba||PlayNow||MBLL 2||1 million|
|Québec||Espace Jeux||Loto-Québec||6.7 million|