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Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron speaks to media in Battleford, Sask., on Feb. 9, 2018.Liam Richards/The Canadian Press

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling on the Saskatchewan government to consult with First Nations before shutting down casinos.

A new public health rule orders the closure of casinos and bingo halls starting Saturday until at least Jan. 15.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron says Indigenous communities benefit from revenue made at casinos operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.

The organization operates seven casinos, which employ many First Nations people.

Cameron says the casinos already have strict safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and their closures could have a lasting impact on communities.

A SIGA spokeswoman says its casinos will be following the public-health order and closing this weekend.

Cameron says the casinos proposed operating at 12 per cent capacity, below the requirement for retailers and other businesses that are allowed to stay open.

“Other gaming machines like VLTs, which are hosted in Saskatchewan hotels, bars and restaurants remain open. SIGA, and the 1,000 employees who are going to be out of work, simply seek a level playing field,” Cameron said in a statement Friday.

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