Kahnawake Gaming Commission

Governing Body

Both land based casinos and interactive gaming sites hosted in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory in southern Quebec are regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The Commission offers four types of licences, authorizations, and permits:

  1. Interactive Gaming Licences – allows a company to provide Internet services to authorised client providers based in the same location.
  2. Client Provider Authorisation – allows the conduct of gaming operations from a co-location facility operated by the holder of an Interactive Gaming Licence.
  3. Inter-Jurisdictional Authorisation – allows the conduct of interactive gaming from a co-location facility operated by the holder of an Interactive Gaming Licence.
  4. Key Person Permit – required by someone employed or contracted by the holder of an Interactive Gaming Licence or Authorised Client Provider to provide managerial or operational functions.

History as a Licensing Agent

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was formed in 1996 under the mandate of the Kahnawake Gaming Law. Three years later, section 35 was included to cover the regulations concerning interactive gaming. They were crafted to cover the conduct of any agents acting within the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, making sure they abide by several principles of gaming:

  • to regulate and control interactive gaming based in or offered from within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, according to the law
  • to ensure that interactive gaming is responsible, fair and honest
  • to prevent interactive gaming from being associated with crime
  • to ensure that the operators treat players fairly, pay winners promptly and that all information related to player accounts is held in the strictest confidence
  • to protect persons under the age of 18 years and other vulnerable persons from the risks of gaming

Under an amendment to the regulations in 2010, all companies must be hosted by Mohawk Internet Technologies, which has a virtual monopoly on the territory. The data centre is managed and maintained by the Isle of Man based technology firm Continent 8.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission also enjoys strong bonds with other gambling jurisdictions. It entered a Memoranda of Understanding with Antigua and Barbuda in 2005, with Malta in 2006, and with Alderney in 2010. Closer to home, the Kahnawake has similar agreements with the Six Nations Gambling Commission in neighbouring Ontario, and the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California.

In the eyes of Canadian law, only provincial governments have the right to offer online gambling services to their citizens. The Kahnawake tribe, and other First Nation tribes, however, insist that they have the right to regulate gaming sites, and that those they regulate should be made available across the world wherever gambling is legal. Over the last decade, the Quebec government has chosen to look the other way, which has enabled the Kahnawake jurisdiction to grow and become the largest grey-market gaming jurisdiction in the world.

Reliability

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission offers a very attractive package, from 0% tax rates to unparalleled infrastructure and human resources, as well as huge bandwidth and multi-layered security systems. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is proud of its hard-won reputation that stretches around the globe, and employs a number of agencies to make sure licence holders are following the codes of conduct. In addition, the fact that all companies must be hosted by Mohawk Internet Technologies gives the commission totalitarian power to shut down any entity or website that is not acting in accordance with the rules.

As Off Shore Gaming Association points out, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s reputation was bruised by a scandal in 2007 that revealed two websites to be abusing the system and cheating players out of poker winnings. Former employees of the sites had left back door security flaws in the program hosted at Mohawk Internet Technologies, which allowed them unprecedented access to, and power over, the outcome of tournaments, effectively gaming the system. While the commission was proven not at fault, and in fact alerted and aided the authorities in the 18-month investigation, it left a damaging stain on an otherwise untarnished legacy.

Popularity

Mohawk Internet Technologies hosts over 50 clients running approximately 250 online gaming websites. However, with the Quebec government looking to take action and potentially block sites operating out of Kahnawake territory, the tribe may have another long fight on its hands.

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