KAHNAWAKE is the new gambling paradise. The Kahnawake, called also K-town, is a Mohawk (means People of the Flint) territory in Canada.
Nowadays this place is famous for the 24-hour poker palace. It’s definitely not as showy as Las Vegas, there is no grand entrance with big neon lights, but once you walk in, pass all bouncers and camera monitors, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Snake’s Poker Club.
The Club is arranged with leather chairs, red tables decorated with a Mohawk warrior’s face on it. This place became very popular in a very short time. Besides, in the Snake’s card club is a Viper Room for VIP’s, in there residents and visitors can play a cash game of Texas Hold’em.
Gamblers spend a lot of time there, playing, drinking and watching the NHL playoffs on a big screen TV. Amado Landicho, a Montreal resident, who goes often to Kahnawake, likes it better than the Montreal casino, because there everything is electronic, and here there are real dealers and cards and chips.
The Mohawk territory of about 10.000 inhabitants is doing a very profitable gambling operation. Talking to residents and leaders, you get the sense that the place is struggling with a contradiction: trying to keep the historic ways of the Mohawk nation and at the same time taking a gamble in the new economy of the 21st century.
Kahnawake is the capital of online gambling in North America as it hosts one of the most high-tech centres for poker, sport betting and casino games in the world.
Technically gamblers who play at Kahnawake violate the Canadian law. The Canadian government and the police don’t seem very eager to shut this business down.
There are still bitter memories, in the minds of residents, of the Oka crisis in 1990, which was the first of a number of well-publicized violent conflicts between First Nations and the Canadian Government in the late 20th century.
That’s what the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Grand Chief Mike Delisle said. He also can’t understand why gambling is illegal.
The biggest piece of the gaming pie in this town is the online variety, high security fortress called Mohawk Internet Technologies, MIT, which hosts the computer servers for 470 global Internet gaming sites.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission regulates the MIT and it licences the only server in North America which has real money online gambling sites. All other servers with real money are situated in the Caribbean, Europe an Australia.
So the Lucky Charm Casino, PokerStars and Sports Fever Casino are part of the virtual casino of the Mohawk reserve in suburban Montreal.
One of MIT’s supervisors Chuck Barnett, who is also one of the directors of the Kahnawake Economic Development Commission, compared MIT to Rodeo Drive, the way it s expensive. He claims also that playing there, you’re 100% save.
That’s why just who’s serious about his business is allowed to gamble. In the mid of the 90’s the online gaming was regulated by the Wild West and there were no guarantees. Barnett said that they could make a lot more money if they let everybody in, because it’s an income – generating industry, but respect, dignity and honour are important as well.
MIT is not a gaming company, but a utility company. It just provides the service, the fibre-optic backbone and connectivity which permit online gaming gamblers to make their offerings on the global grid. There are already 200 employees at the MIT and 500 new jobs will soon be crated by Mohawk-Morris Gaming Group. The operations and marketing of the Bodog Entertainment brand will be handled by this group.
The Mohawk council neither pays taxes to the federal nor to the provincial government. The MIT puts up a part of the community’s income, which is used for the town in particular for the schools and the hospitals.
Now the liberal MP Roy Cullen wants the government to regulate the Mohawk Online Gambling. Mr. Cullen already talked to the Justice Minister Rob Nicholson about this issue and he claimed that if the government won’t do anything, he’ll introduce a private member’s bill and so it can be dealt with it in Parliament. So now the question is in discussion.
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