The Kahnawake Gambling Commission is a familiar name to anyone who reads reviews of online gambling sites or who follows online gambling news. The commission, established in 1996, licenses many online casino operations that are highly trusted by players throughout the world. Despite what some land-based gambling operators in the United States have been saying for years, most online gambling operators are licensed and regulated by a handful of gaming authorities. Kahnawake is one of the most well-known names but what do players actually know about the commission that they should know?
One of the less well-understood issues of international online business operations is that data center technologies outside of North America have been playing catchup over the last decade. Many gaming companies were using servers based in Antigua, for example, and the Mohawk Internet Technologies data center offered a much more stable, reliable platform. Hence, it made sense for some early Kahnawake licensees to transfer their operations to Canada.
Although state of the art facilities have now been built in many countries around the world, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission put Mohawk Internet Technologies on the map, thus ensuring the company is well able to grow with its business. Here is a list of a few facts that many players may not be aware of. Most of them are in the "interesting to know" category but some are reassuring or "need to know" facts. Because when you are not sure if the gambling operator you're playing with is being honest, you need to know where to turn to with your complaints. Start with the gaming authority that licensed the company.
When the Native Reserve of Kahnawake first announced its intent to issue offshore gaming licenses there was some skepticism about whether they had the legal authority to do so. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has always maintained it had a sovereign right to establish a gaming regulatory authority and despite a legal crisis in 2007 over cheating of players by two now-defunct companies, the Canadian government has never disputed the Kahnawake Commission's validity.
Although the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has about 29 operating companies, those companies only hold Client Provider Authorization (CPA) licenses. To date the only company that actually holds an Interactive Gaming License (IGL) is Mohawk Internet Technologies. IGLs are only issued to Mohawk-owned companies, so any other company that wants to offer games under a KGC license must partner with Mohawk Internet Technologies. Hypothetically, someone else in the Mohawk community could set up a similar company and apply for an Interactive Gaming License, although that is not likely to happen.
The gaming commission requires that companies operating under its authority host their gaming Websites at Mohawk Internet Technologies, which is a Web hosting company established in 1998. Because MIT's data center is located on the native reserve the gaming commission has the physical capacity for inspection and intervention. Canadian police have occasionally also inspected the facility although they have never intervened in its operations.
The 2007 cheating scandal led to an 18-month investigation by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which ultimately forced the company Ultimate Bet to return $23 million to players who had been cheated. The US government's Black Friday shutdown of online poker sites in 2011 has led to the repayment of tens of millions of dollars to players starting 2014, but the process has been orchestrated by non-gaming authorities.
Most players, when they notice the name of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, find it on Websites for online casinos. But the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is home to three gambling establishments licensed by the commission: VIP Poker Enterprises, Snake's Poker Club, and Playground Poker Club. All poker rooms must be located within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake.
Dean Montour and Murray Marshall, representing the gaming commission, said in a December 2014 interview that the commission does not have a tax treaty with the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom has never requested assistance from the commission in collecting taxes for UK citizens.
In that same interview, the commission representatives confirmed that their organization is open to gambling arrangements with other tribes, and that an Inter-Jurisdictional Authorization (a third form of license) had been issued to the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California for a poker site. However, the tribe has faced legal challenges in California courts over its gambling operations.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is one of the most important online gambling license bodies in the world. In fact, they probably provide licensing and oversight for more online casinos than any other governmental agency. Their status legally might be questionable, but to date, no one in the Canadian government proper has shut them down.
Regulation is still pretty loose in the online casino industry. Reputation is more important than licensing. My recommendation is to look for recommendations at trusted gambling portals like this one, and you might want to visit a player forum or two just to see what kind of experiences other gamblers have had. Be wary to the sites which offer reviews that are really nothing more than thinly-disguised sales letter. There's nothing the Kahnawake Gaming Commission can do about that kind of practice.