Government makes deal to sell Casinos Regina and Moose Jaw

NDP opposes government’s rushed and secretive plan to sell valuable public assets

The government has made a deal to sell Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority in a rushed document, drawn in secret. NDP Leader Cam Broten is calling on the government to release the full details of its agreement and says he will not support the rushed, secret deal to sell valuable public assets.­

“Casinos Regina and Moose Jaw belong to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Broten. “They’re profitable. They help fund health care, schools and community initiatives. As far as I’m concerned, they’re not for sale.”

Thursday, Feb. 6, was the first time the government provided a short briefing to the official Opposition, refusing then to provide a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it had reached with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. Over the weekend, the government insisted that the official Opposition must agree to rush the sale through the Legislature, despite refusing to provide anything in writing, or any details of the sale.

“There are legislative rules in place for a reason - to allow for proper scrutiny, consultation and due diligence,” said Broten. “I take my job seriously, and I’ll hold the government to those rules. The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act is a promise made to the people of Saskatchewan. I'm keeping that promise and I want the premier to keep it, too.”

The government appeared not to have been bargaining with the FSIN in good faith, claiming at several points it wouldn’t sign the deal unless the NDP agreed not to publicly challenge it, sight unseen.

The Crown ownership act – which passed unanimously in the legislature – sets minimum conditions before the sale of prescribed Crowns can take place, including public consultations and a minimum 90-day window after the next provincial election before the completion of a Crown sale, including the casinos.

“If the government wants to sell a Crown corporation, it can follow the law that we all promised to follow, and consult with the owners of the Crowns, the people of Saskatchewan,” said Broten.

“I want to see an increased role for First Nations in Saskatchewan’s economy, and I don’t believe that needs to be confined to gaming. I’m willing to listen to proposals and talk about options for an increased role for SIGA. What I’m not willing to support are rushed, secret deals to sell off valuable public assets without proper consultation.”

SaskGaming brought in $137.2 million in revenue in 2012 alone, totalling $52.6 million in profit. SaskGaming also has $78.7 million in assets. The government claimed Thursday the sale price would be between $100 and $200 million.

The NDP was also informed that the MOU includes online gaming, which was ruled out by the government in November, 2012, when it said online gaming sites would not be permitted in Saskatchewan due to significant risks and social concerns.

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NDP Leader Cam Broten will be available for comment for members of the media today, Feb. 10, at the Legislature, Rm. 265, at 1 p.m.

For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus