Saskatchewan's gaming governance is complex compared to jurisdictions like Ontario where gaming is run by a single large organization. "For a small province, we probably have the most entities involved in gaming," says Meredith. "There's us, the Indian Gaming Authority, and the Liquor and Gaming Authority, who run the Video Lottery Terminals in the province. The Saskatchewan Lottery people run the lottery." This wide landscape is a unique challenge for Meredith as she strives to keep Saskatchewan Gaming growing.
"We've come from over a decade of double digit revenue growth," says Meredith. "We've seen a slowing of that, starting this past year. Last year we still grew at 4% revenue. This is the opportunity to step back and review our operations. Now over the course of the next couple years, I see us taking that step back and preserving our net income."
Meredith has a few other priorities at this important juncture. "The first priority is making sure we're an employer of choice," says Meredith. "This is a business with a high turnover rate. We have a target of trying to obtain a 50% aboriginal workforce. We're a bit of a training ground. We're fortunate out here in the west that we have fairly low unemployment here. We haven't had a single layoff at Saskatchewan Gaming. We're still in recruitment mode."
Another focus is community involvement. "Working in a relatively small community, a small province, it's important that we be viewed as a responsible corporation," says Meredith. "Not just responsible gaming, but a good corporate citizen. We give 1% back to the communities. We want to be viewed as a positive to the community, not a negative." This extends to scholarships, hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations, as well as local community events. 25% of Saskatchewan Gaming's net profit flows to a First Nations fund.
Looking to the future, Meredith sees change coming for the industry. "The province has said no further gaming growth," says Meredith. "It's a challenge to maintain the expectation of net income without having to expand gaming. It could be internet gaming on the horizon. That's probably the future of this industry.”
By Sam White