The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) is looking back on 2023.

In an exclusive year end interview with MBC Radio News, SIGA President and CEO Zane Hansen said the past year was one which saw the First Nations owned gaming authority continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s kind of been our first real solid 12 months coming back out of the pandemic and that was a situation and crisis that impacted us unlike anything we had in the past,” he said.

Hansen explained many of SIGA’s casinos have seen their business return to where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, while a few have even seen their business grow beyond on what they were doing before the pandemic forced them to shut down.

“It’s been a year of recovery and getting the company back on it’s feet, we’re seeing all of our casino markets performing well,” said Hansen.

Currently Hansen said SIGA has around 1,400 people working for the company, which is slightly down from the number of employees who were working before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We probably still have a bit more on the food beverage, entertainment side to keep building out,” he said.

SIGA as well saw growth with their online gambling PlayNow app. Hansen said the app has now been up and going for just over one year and has been seeing numbers grow for month to month. He explained there is competition when it comes to the online betting market.

“We’re up against a gray or illegal market that has been well established for quite some time,” said Hansen.

Looking towards 2024 Hansen said SIGA is looking to make some upgrades to improve the customer experience at some of their properties. One example Hansen pointed to was the opening of a sports book at the Dakota Dunes Casino near Saskatoon. He added SIGA is looking to get sports books in at other locations.

“We want to start expanding that out to our other properties,” he said.

In the new year SIGA is also looking forward to contributing more funds to community initiatives. Hansen said in 2023 the corporation provided nearly $2 million dollars to various initiatives including providing support to the First Nations summer and winter games.

Hansen said the company is thankful to be back putting on events in the communities where they operate. This Thanksgiving the Northern Lights Casino put on a powwow in Prince Albert and Dakota Dunes is set to host one in January in Saskatoon.

“So all of those things have been great and its nice to be able to do that again as a company,” said Hansen.

(Top Photo: SIGA CEO Zane Hansen speaks at the grand opening of the Seven Sports Bar at Dakota Dunes Casino. Photo by Joel Willick.)