Poker sites all over must be squirming in discomfort at the recent charges brought against Cyber World Group (the company that owns Golden Palace Casino) by the state of Quebec. Cyber Group has been fined $2 million after pleading guilty to illegal gambling charges, which seems to imply that the gaming license issued by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was not up to legal standards.
This is the first time such charges have been pressed in Quebec against an online casino, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s French language service, Radio Canada. It seems that according to Quebec’s Criminal Code the only entity that can emit gaming licenses is the provincial government, which is why Quebec police targeted the offices of Golden Palace in Montreal over a year ago. Golden Palace has since relocated its servers to Antigua and Barbuda, but it must still face the $2 million fine or file an appeal.
This opens up very alarming possibilities for the almost 450 gaming sites licensed and hosted by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and their hosting division Mohawk Internet Technologie (MIT.) Joe Delarone, member of the Kahnawake band council, believes this action to be part of a broader scheme to reduce the Mohawk’s field of gambling jurisdiction. “The Mohawk Gaming Commission has already handed out 443 permits without any problems,” he said to CBC News. “These charges and fines are part of a wider jurisdictional battle between the Mohawk community and the provincial and federal governments.”
The Mohawk will not take this lying down, claiming that it is their right to license regulate and host online gaming companies, as part of their traditional native rights protected by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Delarone commented: "We don't ask for anything, we tell them that this is our right to do this. And we're doing it properly, we're administering it properly — the world seems to think that we're doing a good job, and we're confident we'll continue to do a good job."
Online gaming companies can only hope that Delarone is right, as according to some tribal leaders the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s servers receive around 60% of the world’s online gambling traffic. Kahnawake’s licenses have not been previously tested in a court of law, and many are now waiting with bated breath to see if they will stand to the test.