A recent court ruling against Cyber World Group, the company in charge of online casino GoldenPalace.com, ordered that it pay a fine of $2 million after pleading guilty to charges of illegal gambling. This was the first time that government officials in Quebec pursued such charges and did so based on the criminal code that only allows the provincial government to hand out gaming licenses. Thus, the Montreal office of GoldenPalace.com was raided over a year ago, and Cyber World Group was prosecuted accordingly.
Mohawk Internet Technologie is a business located in Quebec and manages hundreds of online gaming sites, issuing numerous gaming licenses through the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Approximately 60% of the entire world’s online gaming traffic runs through the servers located in Mohawk territory. The Native-American community maintains that it has the right to provide space on their servers for online gaming sites under Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution because traditional native rights are protected therein.
However, Cyber World Group administers their online casino through a server located on the Kahnawake reserve. This raises new questions as Mohawk hosts servers for so many other online gaming sites. The future of potential conflicts seems to be in the hands of the provincial government of Quebec and the Canadian government as to how they will choose to proceed and whether they will investigate or attempt to prosecute any other companies with servers hosted by Mohawk.
Joe Delaronde, a member of the Kahnawake band council, told a reporter, “The Mohawk Gaming Commission has already handed out 443 permits without any problems… 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 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.”
Michael Lipton, a Toronto-based lawyer specializing in gaming law, told CBC News that he is not so confident. “It’s never been settled in court, and you might say it’s a bit of a grey area. So that’s where the Kahnawake Mohawks get their strength from, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Time and the actions of Canadian officials will tell the future of Mohawk’s ability to distribute gaming licenses. It could be a battle that Canada – Quebec, in particular – is willing to wage.