Canada: Kahnawake

The Kahnawake is an Indian territory located in Canada and is also one of the first licensing bodies to extend licensure to online casinos.  The Kahnawake Gaming Commission used to be extremely liberal about granting licenses and extremely conservative about enforcing its policies, at least those few policies that it actually did have.  While there are, and always have been, perfectly reputable casinos licensed by the Kahnawake, the sad truth is that many of them were completely disreputable in the early days and licensing by them was worth little more than Costa Rican licensing is today.

Become More Serious

In recent years, however, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has become a bit more serious about its responsibilities, yet they have lost many of their licensees to different regulatory bodies, largely for financial and stock-trading reasons.  With that, the Kahnawake license is generally a sign of a fairly reputable casino to this day (the word, ‘Generally,’ is important in that sentence) and due to the lesser fees and tax requirements compared to other licensing jurisdictions, many privately owned casinos choose to seek out licensing through the Kahnawake.

With respect to interactive gaming, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s site can be found here.


One regulation that the jurisdiction has is that they require operators sites to be hosted at Mohawk Internet Technologies, which is located within the realm of their physical jurisdiction.  

As with other jurisdictions, Kahnawake prohibits the playing of any individuals who are not eighteen years of age, or alternatively, the age upon which they would be legally permitted to gamble based on whatever jurisdiction they are playing from.  In that sense, most players in the United States would be required to be twenty-one in order to play at a casino licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.  Naturally, this is a pretty standard requirement for all licensing jurisdictions.  

Furthermore, as with other operators, for individuals looking to ensure that those casinos claiming to be licensed within the Kahnawake Gaming Commission actually are, then they can simply visit the Commission’s website and look at the list of companies and/or URL’s which are licensed by the Kahnawake.  

As well as some other fees which are situational and beyond the purview of this page, the Kahnawake does have a base application fee of $30,000 for those who wish to be licensed through them to operate an online casino.  Furthermore, there are other licensing fees associated with key person permits, live gaming licenses, and other things.  Furthermore, the Commission also calls for several different types of annual renewal fees for the various license categories.

The Kahnawake also undertake an investigation of owners and key persons of the online gaming company to ensure that all of them are acceptable within the commission.  As well as other individuals having to do with the gaming provider, the commission will also undertake an investigation of any individual who has a ten percent (or greater) stake in a particular online gambling company.  

While players should use the resources available on our family of sites to thoroughly research online gambling companies before deciding to play, one key difference is that the Kahnawake has different standards than other licensing jurisdictions with respect to the security of player funds.  For instance, the Commission, ‘May,’ require the gambling company to post a security to protect player funds that the Commission may then use to pay players in the event that the gambling website is unable to pay its players.  However, it is the Commission itself who determines whether or not it believes that such a security is even necessary, and as a result, it is difficult to say whether or not an individual website or operator has even posted such a security.

Once again, in comparison to the regulations had by The Isle of Man in order to be licensed through that jurisdiction, the player fund security requirements that only may be called for by the Kahnawake are actually pretty light.  With The Isle of Man, the only three methods by which the security of player funds may be guaranteed must contain an amount equal to or exceeding the amount of player deposits, bonuses and withdrawals, the Kahnawake will only require a security (potentially of some amount less than that) if they decide that such a security is necessary.

On the other hand, the Kahnawake has granted itself, by statute, a pretty broad authority under which it may decide to either suspend or revoke the license of one of its operators.  Therefore, it can be assumed that they would want to keep only those operators that are reputable enough to ensure that the Kahnawake licensure actually has some sort of meaning and that it is not a Costa Rica type situation.

Player Protection Protocols

The Commission Legislates a number of player protection protocols, but one of the only ones that were of any great interest to me was that the Commission, in order to have its full protection, requires a player to submit a complaint within seven days to six months after the reason for the complaint arose.  In effect, what might concern a potential player is that the course and scope of his/her dealings with the online casino in question may take more than six months, such as in the event of a slow-pay/no-pay type situation, but if six months (or more) has elapsed from the time that the player requested his or her funds, then theoretically, the Commission is no longer required, by way of the Commission’s own statutes, to do anything about it.  

On the other hand, if a player does submit a timely complaint to the Commission, then the Commission requires that the operator in question respond to said complaint within seven days.  If the casino does not respond to the complaint in a timely fashion, or at all, then the Commission may automatically and summarily find in favor of the player and fine the casino accordingly.  

Furthermore, in terms of player protection, the Commission requires that a player be able to request limits as to the amount (on a daily, weekly or monthly basis) that the player may deposit into the casino, or casinos, under the control of a specific licensee.  This, of course, is in addition to the fact that the player must also have a means by which they can self-exclude from a particular casino or casino group.  

Overall, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has a fairly detailed and specific set of standards, but it seems reactive rather than proactive in terms of its enforcement.  For example, unlike The Isle of Man and Gibraltar who both require that player funds be secured by some means and that those means be reported to the licensing jurisdictions on a quarterly basis, and for which random reporting can be requested at any time, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission may decide to require security of player funds by way of one of several means (or by a combination of means) essentially at its liking and discretion.  In other words, the security is not necessarily required until the Kahnawake decides it is required, and by that time, it could be too late.

However, we would consider a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to carry a reasonable amount of weight and to serve as a reasonably decent indicator that an online casino is going to be reputable.  With that said, as with any other specific online casino, players should always use the resources available to them at our family of sites as well as the sites of respective licensing jurisdictions to ensure that they are getting a fair bet and good gamble wherever they may choose to play.  It is fair to say that a license from the Kahnawake is not the ironclad guarantee that a license from The Isle of Man would seem to be, but it is certainly stronger than a license out of a jurisdiction such as Costa Rica...which is basically just as good as no license at all.

Online casinos with a Kahnawake license are listed below.

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