The Humboldt Broncos have been doing lotteries in the province of Saskatchewan for 25 years now. The lottery has been a major fundraiser for the continuing operations of the team.
Over the last few years the team has moved to utilizing handheld mobile devices to help with the administration of their yearly lottery. They have also put their lottery online to allow the Saskatchewan people an easy means of purchasing tickets to support the team.
In 2019, less than a year after the tragic accident where Humboldt's tears were heard and shared around the world, SLGA has instituted policies that can only be construed as harmful, not just to the Broncos but to all small charities and non-profits in Saskatchewan that wish to use raffles as a format to raise money for their causes.
Let me explain....
SLGA has the power to govern charitable gaming within Saskatchewan. They make the rules, and they enforce the rules. This seems fair. What happens though when SLGA makes the rules and then doesn't follow their own rules? This appears to be what they are doing to charities in Saskatchewan, and to the Humboldt Broncos current lottery.
Firstly, SLGA has deemed that the Humboldt Broncos are not a provincial organization and only provincial organizations have the right to go into other communities to sell tickets. Therefore SLGA was going to allow the Broncos to sell tickets online, but only to people physically located in Humboldt. I'm pretty sure this is the opposite of what the internet is all about. The Humboldt Broncos are part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, with Saskatchewan being the key word. They have players from around the province, they play all over the province and other teams from all over the province travel to Humboldt to play. When they were making headlines around the world, our government was quick to claim them as a Saskatchewan organization and now they are claiming this is not the case.
By the strictest definition, SLGA is probably correct. As the Humboldt Broncos likely don’t have in their charter the ability to open up shop in another town, according to SLGA, they would not be considered a provincial organization. SLGA had to look long and hard to implement this rule as it was actually written about bingos. I can understand SLGA not wanting local charities to run bingos in towns they aren’t really a part of. This makes sense to me. However, to deem an online raffle ticket purchase as a gaming event when by their own definition a gaming event is bingo and applying that rule to raffles is a stretch and I just can’t get there.
As a technology provider to charitable gaming, I don’t have a clue on how to define Humboldt in order to geo-locate and restrict sales to only people in the town. It is a farming community. Is it 10 miles around Humboldt? Is it 50 miles around Humboldt? What about the next local charity that wants a raffle in Warman? 50 miles would include Saskatoon. There is no real meaningful way to implement what I consider a completely ludicrous regulation. I would be getting calls from people saying “I live 2 miles down the road from my brother. He could buy a ticket online and I can’t.” No thanks SLGA. If I can’t supply my technology to worthy causes in Saskatchewan then so be it.
I say shame on SLGA for considering themselves to be the moral compass of the Saskatchewan people. If I grew up in a small town and want to support causes in that small town, but I have moved away, I should be allowed to. I don’t want the government telling me I can’t. How dare they?
Prior to 2019, charities were allowed to sell tickets online as long as they geo-located the purchaser in Saskatchewan, and used lab certified software to sell those tickets. Not anymore. However, people from anywhere in the province can phone the Broncos to purchase a ticket. I don't know how SLGA reconciles this. Yes, you read that right. They can phone and buy a ticket, but they can’t use a private online secure channel to do so. So an online purchase is a gaming event (bingo) but a phone call is not. They appear to have traveled back in time.
SLGA has in fact, created an artificial monopoly for the home lotteries for online sales. Don’t get me wrong, the home lotteries support wonderful causes. I want the Stars, and the hospitals of Saskatchewan to have the latest and best, but I also want that for the thousands of smaller charities in Saskatchewan.
To sum up the first issue: the Humboldt Broncos do not have provincial organization status although they have paid dearly for travelling within Saskatchewan, and thus cannot hold a gaming event in another community - even though "gaming event" really is a bingo. SLGA, in this case, is saying an online purchase is a gaming event but a phone call purchasing the same ticket is not a "gaming event." Confused? I know I am.
Thanks to this SLGA's stance on this anybody outside of the town of Humboldt that wants to purchase a ticket, either has to drive to Humboldt or they can buy a ticket on the phone. Purchasing tickets on the phone is an administrative burden. Purchasing tickets online is not. Thanks SLGA.
As you can see, the Broncos have one arm handcuffed behind their back. Here is the other arm or in boxing terms the 1-2 punch. SLGA also in 2019 has deemed that those mobile handheld raffle terminals commonly used at Roughriders, Rush, Pats, or Blades games cannot be used for non-event based raffles. Longer term raffles cannot use this type of innovation. Their rationale is that a raffle may get too large. Don't even get me started on this. They can't get too large and they won't but that's another article.
A rule is a rule right? Wrong! The rules say terminals can be used:
9(c) Licensees may also use websites, software, and other electronic systems to advertise raffles and to accept orders to purchase tickets that will be paid for and delivered off-line. Systems used only for these purposes are not required to be certified under SLGA Integrity Certification Requirements for Electronic Raffle Systems.
My question to our government is who regulates the regulators?
What has SLGA accomplished besides limiting the support for the Broncos? They have now funneled online sales that take no admin to phone calls which takes a lot of admin. They are also only allowing 1 terminal to be used at the Broncos office where in the past they had 5 phone banks and 5 terminals in operation. SLGA made an exception to allow 1 terminal, but they would not allow more terminals to be used so the Broncos can properly process tickets. So sales are down, with increased administration, and the tools are limited to 1 terminal. I guess the volunteers can pass this terminal around.
I find this all very unbelievable and sad. I’m embarrassed our industry is treating the wonderful volunteers that donate their time to ensure the Humboldt Cash Lotto goes well. I’ve worked with you and I value your time even if SLGA has put no value on it. You are the stars here carrying the burden of a dysfunctional institution.
If you want to support the Humboldt Broncos Cash Lotto, you can call 1-833-619-2019. Be nice to the wonderful ladies that operate the raffle and tell them Sean sent you.
This article was written by Sean O'Hagan and is his personal viewpoint. The article in no manner is meant to represent the viewpoint of the Humboldt Broncos.