REGINA -- The province is opening up an online auction for retail liquor permits for some communities later this month.

Permit auctions for Estevan, Martensville, Melfort, Weyburn and Warman open on Nov. 27 and will close on Dec. 6.

“We have received a fair amount of interest since first announcing the population-based policy to allocate additional liquor permits earlier this year,” Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Gene Makowsky said in a release. “The online auction process is a way to allocate the permits efficiently and transparently so that new permittees can complete the application process and open for business in a timely manner.”

The government announced in May that it would change how new retail liquor permits are distributed in Saskatchewan. Permit availability is determined by community population and the number of liquor stores currently operating. A minimum population of 500 people is required for to qualify for a permit.

Auctions will only happen if someone expresses interest in opening a liquor store in a community where there is an available permit.

Bidders can register at and the auctions have an opening bid of $1,000.

There will be additional auctions in the coming months for other communities. Once the initial auctions are complete, the province says it will hold quarterly auctions when someone expresses interest in a community where at least one permit is available.