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Saskatchewan government reviewing management of gaming – Regina Leader-Post

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Don Healy/Regina Leader-Post

The province is doing a review of its gaming operations. 

Barry Lacey, the former CEO and president of Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), will be joining Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) to lead the review. 

Blair Swystun, CEO and president of CIC, says the review is part of the Saskatchewan government’s transformational change agenda that it announced last year. 

“There are a number of different ideas that have been put forward and are now being looked into,” he said. 

Still in its infancy, Swystun says the review will look at the way the government “manages various aspects of gaming in the province” to see if anything can be done to improve efficiency. 

Gaming in the province is managed by various agencies. Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation operates the casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw, SLGA regulates gaming and owns all the VLTs.

Swystun said the review will attempt to determine if there is a “better way to organize things” but said reducing the role the province plays in managing gaming won’t be considered. 

“This is about governance and management of gaming, it’s not a more fundamental review of whether we’re going to have gaming in the province or not, or what the extent of gaming would be. That’s all being treated as continuation of the status quo,” he said. 

The province recently passed a law allowing Crown corporations — like SLGA or Sask. Gaming — to be privatized up to 49 per cent. That has spurred talk of potential plans to privatize Crown corporations.

Swystun says that law “would apply to casinos as well, but that’s really not the focus of this review” and that the review “would not be looking at ownership, per se.” 

He added any potential changes to gaming in the province would likely be announced over the next few months. 

The province says it has also drafted guidelines to better monitor where the money from casinos goes. 

Late last year, the provincial auditor criticized the province for not having a formal, documented process to ensure casino funds are being properly spent. 

Under the Gaming Framework Agreement between the province and First Nations, funds from casinos is put primarily in two places: the First Nations Trust (FNT) and Community Development Corporation. 

Some concern was raised by the auditor’s office when it found the FNT planned to pay the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to help fund that organization’s operations. 

The ministry, according to the auditor, had not provided any documentation supporting that was appropriate use of the funding. 

Laurier Donais, assistant deputy minister of government relations, says the province “concluded it was in accordance with the Gaming Framework Agreement” because the money is for governance-type activities, and therefore acceptable to be used to fund the FSIN. 

dfraser@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/dcfraser

 


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