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Showdown Looming?

Kahnawake and Quebec may go at it now that the province is launching online gaming

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, which earns millions of dollars from licensing and hosting online gambling operations through Mohawk Internet Technologies (MIT) and Continent 8 Technologies, wants the province of Quebec to recognize its sovereignty over gambling.

The companies have agreements with regulators in Malta, Antigua, Barbuda and other jurisdictions. But Quebec’s lack of recognition has prevented other governments’ approvals. “I think an intergovernmental agreement on gaming would help us in the broader landscape of gaming,” Chief John Dee Delormier said in an interview.

MIT, which has handled as much as an estimated 60 percent of the world’s online gambling traffic, has enriched the Kahnawake community by providing jobs and career opportunities for Mohawks. As a result, Delormier said, Kahnawake “has a lot of expertise” to offer Quebec as it prepares to launch online gaming. Delormier said government representatives toured MIT in September, and there was discussion of including Quebec gambling regulators in a future meeting.

However, a spokesperson from the office of Pierre Corbeil, the provincial minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, said gambling was not on the agenda.

“The negotiator was in listening mode, but there was no question of an undertaking on Quebec’s part to sit down with Kahnawake to negotiate online gaming” or gambling in general, she said.

Delormier responded, Kahnawake does not want to interfere with Loto-Quebec operations, but to “move in parallel down the stream. I have hope that something will be hammered out.”

Another concern is that Kahnawake’s gambling operations have been implicated in the infamous Ultimate Bet online poker scam in 2007-8 that resulted in players losing millions of dollars to cheaters who manipulated the systems run by MEI. While the players were repaid, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has never fully explained how the scam will accomplished and who was to blame.

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