Kahnawake is a Great Jurisdiction for Online Casino Startups
Go the legal route with an online casino license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and reap the many rewards that include a boosted reputation, customer loyalty, and unwavering support from the gaming enforcement authorities.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide to the rules and regulations and the necessary steps detailing how to go about applying for an online gambling license in Kahnawake.
What is the Kahnawake Gaming License?
We’ll start with the basics first.
The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a First Nations reserve situated in Quebec, Canada, and was one of the very first jurisdictions in the world to acknowledge the budding potential of the online gaming domain. Instead of allowing it to fall by the wayside, they committed to regulating the burgeoning market under the Kahnawake Gaming Commission — the official licensing and supervisory watchdog for iGaming in the region.
The first set of online gambling laws was passed by the Commission on July 8, 1999, and as a result, it has successfully controlled online gaming longer than most other jurisdictions. Their top priority? To ensure that casino operators are conducting gambling activities responsibly, fairly, and legally with robust regulations in place.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission not only approves online gambling licenses — they also actively monitor licensees to ensure lawful gambling activities are upheld. Criminal and fraudulent operations are not tolerated and noncompliance is taken very seriously. A violation of the rules could lead to license suspension or a total shutdown if responsible and fair gaming practices are not maintained.
No reason to panic, though. If your gambling business proves its compliance, is ethical and demonstrates transparency, then the possession of a Kahnawake gaming license offers incredible benefits. Customers’ perception of an online gaming casino with a well-respected license is heightened, which improves trust and loyalty. Licensed online casinos can also look forward to collaborating with some of the industry’s most sought-after game developers and payment method providers.
Kahnawake Online Gaming License Options
For operators pondering the available options and jurisdictions in which to launch, Kahnawake is an excellent choice — especially for startups. Here are the types of licenses and permits offered by the Commission:
Interactive Gaming License (IGL)
Being a holder of the IGL license allows the business to run a co-location facility that provides internet services to Authorized Client Providers. Since 1999, Mohawk Internet Technologies (MIT) has held the one and only IGL ever issued by the Commission.
Client Provider Authorization (CPA)
This is the classic or regular Kahnawake license type that an iGaming business would apply for if they’re considering being based in the jurisdiction. A holder of a CPA license is called an Authorized Client Provider (ACP) and it allows an ACP to run their online gaming site from the co-location facility and other premises within the Mohawk Territory that are owned and controlled by MIT, the IGL holder.
Casino Software Provider Authorization (CSPA)
The CSPA allows holders to operate their iGaming equipment at the co-location facility via the IGL holder. It also grants them the right to provide their online gaming software to a third-party operator to use on their site. The holder of the CSPA is not permitted to offer their online casino games to customers. In other words, they are limited to being an online casino software provider.
Live Dealer Studio Authorization (LDSA)
Essentially, the LDSA enables licensees to operate a Live Dealer Studio to administer live dealer games from premises within the Kahnawake jurisdiction.
Inter-Jurisdictional Authorizations (IJA)
This is the license gambling businesses will choose if they are already in possession of an IGL in another jurisdiction, but want to locate a portion (or all) of their equipment and/or staff within Kahnawake.
Key Person Permits
The Key Person Permit is given to certain members of staff employed by the IGL or CPA to act in either a key managerial role or to perform key operational functions. CPA license holders must assign at least one key person to or on behalf of the ACP.
Popular Online Casinos with a Kahnawake Gambling License
To date, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has regulated and issued licenses to some 250 online gambling sites and sportsbooks in its jurisdiction. Here are a few of the top-rated, reputable casinos licensed in the region:
Applying for a Gambling License with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission
While the application process isn’t necessarily the fastest, it is one of the simpler and less complicated online gambling licenses to obtain. We’ll take you through the details, but at a glance, here are the steps an applicant must take to acquire a Kahnawake gaming license:
- Appoint your Key Person(s)
- Gather and complete all the required paperwork
- Submit your completed application
- Pay application fees
- Wait roughly four to eight weeks for the outcome
- Launch your online gaming site
- Once the application has been submitted, there are three potential outcomes for the prospective business:
- Gambling license is approved (for six months)
- Gambling license is declined
- License authorization is put on hold due to incomplete or insufficient information
- Once approved, an applicant will be issued a gambling license for six months only. Think of it as a probationary period.
The Commission will then review the operator’s performance and compliance with regulations, and consider whether they’re satisfied with how the business is being run. The regulatory body will investigate the number of complaints submitted by players and other third parties during the six-month stint and confirm if any illicit gambling activities took place, etc. They will check for anything adverse that may taint or damage the credibility of the Commission and the Kahnawake jurisdiction.
Finally, based on the six-month evaluation, the Commission will either renew the license for five years, cancel it, or extend the term of the CPA for three more months.
How Do the Commission’s Regulations Work?
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission approves a gambling license and regulates the compliance of an online casino that is designed for Canadians.
Applicants are thoroughly scrutinised with grueling background investigations and even if they pass, the permanent 5-year CPA license is not granted from the get-go. During the initial six-month probationary period, operators have to prove their legitimacy and transparency.
These are some of the regulatory benchmarks that need to be met and upheld:
- Supports responsible gaming
- Protects minors and the vulnerable
- Offers a fair and honest gambling environment
- Ensures players receive their correct winning payouts
- Prevents gambling-related crimes and money laundering
Requirements to Obtain a Kahnawake Gaming License
Now, onto the nitty-gritty.
When it comes to the license application process, authorities need to establish the identity of the owners and associates, where funds are coming from, and whether the operator is competent and transparent enough. To qualify for a gambling license in Kahnawake, applicants and their affiliates need to submit the following documents:
- Certificate of no criminal record
- Certified copies of passports, not older than three months
- Birth certificates
- Original bank references of the owner(s), not older than three months
- Personal Financial Statements
- Utility bills, not older than three months
- Detailed description of the applicant’s game offering and software
- Confirmation of the Random Number Generator application, along with proof of its validity and fairness
Applicants must also provide:
- Evidence that the software used is of impeccable standard
- Confirmation that auditing will be undertaken by independent auditors
- Testimony of a safety or emergency fund that ensures large payouts can be made to players who win big
- Details regarding their technical support and confirmation that it will be available to players 24/7
- Instructions on the rules of the live games offered must be translated into a minimum of three languages.
- Pay application fee: $35,000
- Annual license renewal fee: $20, 000
- Pay Key Person Permit application fee: $5,000
- Annual Key Person Permit fee: $1,000
Pros and Cons of Obtaining a Kahnawake Gambling License
- Trustworthy and Safe: It’s a well-respected, reputable jurisdiction, so you can be assured that its licensed operators are legitimate, trustworthy, safe, and secure.
- Relatively Quick: While it takes six months to obtain the permanent five-year license, it’s relatively quick to acquire the initial preliminary approval. The application process takes roughly two to three weeks, and if all is in order, it takes about eight weeks for approval.
- Simple and straightforward: The application process is straightforward.
- Cost-Effective with Zero Tax: Kahnawake is great for startups or smaller casino businesses because it is cost-effective and with the CPA license, operators can look forward to a 0% gaming tax.
- Long Waiting Period: The six-month probationary period after successfully applying is long, and it's followed by more rounds of checks that may include further background investigations — this could be detrimental to the business if any of the owners or associates were linked to unsavoury practices in the past.
- Not Widely Known: Despite being a reputable jurisdiction, the Kahnawake gaming license is not as prestigious in other regions, so if operators want to target outside audiences, they may have to graft harder to gain players' trust and recognition.
Domestic Laws and Restrictions
Holders of a CPA license in the Kahnawake region benefit from a far-reaching audience. It's essentially universal, barring the United States of America and FATF-blacklisted countries.
While the Kahnawake license covers all legal gambling markets (except the ones mentioned above), a separate local license or special permission may be needed to target players outside of the Mohawk Territory. Also, it is expected that operators will abide by their chosen market’s regulations, which include being compliant with advertising legislation.
Take note: Certain payment method providers may restrict or block funds from other jurisdictions.
History of the Kahnawake Gaming License
The Kahnawake Gaming Law was first implemented on June 10, 1996, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the region’s regulatory authority, has been overseeing the compliance and licensing of prospective online casino operators since 1999.
The Commission passed its Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming which states that operators wanting to be licensed must host their iGaming portal at MIT, which is the sole carrier of an IGL in their jurisdiction.
The authority holds a lot of pride in its reputation and wide reach. It employs several agencies to assist in its mission to ensure licensees are conducting activities that are lawful, honest, and by regulations.
Furthermore, since all licensed operators are required to be hosted by MIT, the Commission essentially has full power to ban and shut down any gambling platform that does not cooperate.
About the author
Ethan Williams, a lively 24-year-old lad from the UK, brilliantly fuses his passion for online casinos with top-notch English localisation, creating bespoke casino guides for Britain's keen gaming lot.