Kahnawake online gambling license is one of industry’s most wanted

18 January 2021
Kahnawake places a huge emphasis on responsible and honest gaming.

Kahnawake places a huge emphasis on responsible and honest gaming. (photo by Kahnawake Gaming Commission)

When you think of leading international business hubs, Kahnawake may not be the first that comes to mind. Some may even be hard-pressed to explain where it is, but in the world of online gambling and casino operators, Kahnawake is a very important jurisdiction.
Since the late ’90s, the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake has been issuing licenses through the Kahnawake Gambling Commission to individuals and entities that want to operate online casinos. Since then, the jurisdiction has become one of the most renowned and respected licensing authorities worldwide. Those that hold its online gambling license enjoy greater client and third-party trust and are considered adherent to high standards.
How did it start?
Kahnawake is a First Nations Reserve situated in Quebec, Canada. Spread over 48.05 square kilometers, it is home to around 8,000 people. For many years, the economy’s main source of income was the sale of tobacco and alcohol. Then, in 1996, as an almost autonomous jurisdiction existing within Canada, the Kahnawake Gambling Commission was established. This makes it one of the oldest online casino regulatory boards in the world.
The original activities of the Commission included licensing and supervising brick-and-mortar casinos. In 1999, their scope expanded to include online casinos. Still an industry in its infancy at this time, Kahnawake grasped the opportunity to get ahead of the game. From that moment on, they started issuing licenses to applicants upon satisfactory completion of the process.
Today, it issues licenses to several big-name, multinational online gambling operators. Furthermore, the Commission’s comprehensive code of conduct has become renowned for being both strict but fair. While the Commission still oversees some land-based casinos, the focus is on supervising and developing its online sector.
Who is the Kahnawake Gambling Commission?
The Commission is a group of Kahnawake citizens whose role it is to regulate, monitor, and supervise all online gambling activity from within the jurisdiction. They are also responsible for issuing online gambling licenses to applicants as well as processing renewals. But their responsibility goes further than that.
Kahnawake places a huge emphasis on fair, responsible and honest gaming. Therefore, the Commission takes its role as regulators in this respect very seriously. It is proactive in ensuring that no online gambling site associated with Kahnawake is involved in organized crime, that minors are not targeted or allowed to play, and that all players are treated fairly. Furthermore, they enforce rules regarding payment times, confidentiality, and security, and ensuring customers have all the information they are entitled to, before placing wagers.
The Commission issues a permit known as a Client Provider Authorization or CPA. This is issued to each operator along with at least one Key Person License. So far, there are at least 250 gambling sites licensed in Kahnawake.
As well as overseeing the industry, the Commission provides a Dispute Resolution Officer whose role it is to mediate disputes between players and platforms, ensuring they are resolved promptly.
Since the ’90s, the Commission has come a long way and has solidified its position as one of the leading online gambling licensing authorities in the world. The Commission has established and maintained good reactions with other gambling jurisdictions including formal Memorandums of Understanding with Malta, one of the other most respected jurisdictions.
What are the benefits of a Kahnawake gambling license?
The acquisition of a Kahnawake online gambling license brings with it a range of benefits for the licensee. As mentioned above, the Kahnawake license and the Commission that issues are known for their professionalism and high standards. Therefore, any company or platform holding a Kahnawake license carries with it that prestige.
In addition to the reputation that comes with it, any online gambling company in Kahnawake can enjoy 0% tax and 0% tax rate. This is a huge bonus for both startups and more established companies as it offers fiscal savings while still being in line with international tax rules.
The process of applying for a license is not particularly complex. While it is more difficult and time-consuming than Curacao, it is not as much of a red-tape burden as Malta. The licensing fees are low, it requires a medium amount of paperwork, and it can be completed within a few months. These are important benefits for smaller operators or startups who need to get up and running, and profitable as soon as possible.
What are the requirements?
As with any other jurisdiction, the Kahnawake Gambling Commission firstly wants to establish the applicant's identity and the source of funds. This is done through a due diligence process which includes submitting ID documents, proof of address, proof of income, professional references, and an application form.
Following the completion, applicants need to provide conduct certificates, birth certificates, financial statements, bank references, and details of professional qualifications. The Commission also requires detailed information on games offering, gaming software to be used, and confirmation of the RNG application and its fairness, including a third-party certification.
Applicants are also required to host their service in Kahnawake and evidence of this must be provided.
As mentioned above, applicants must also ensure they comply with key principles of the Commission. These ensure that all activity is conducted in a fair, honest, and responsible way; prevent online gambling from being associated with criminality; ensure all players are treated fairly and in a secure way; and to protect minors and vulnerable individuals from exposure to online gambling.
For over 20 years, Kahnawake has been working hard to develop its licensing regime from a small-time regulator into one of the world’s most respected. Today, holding a Kahnawake license means the operator is ethical, professional, and is committed to upholding the core principles of the Commission. Furthermore, the Kahnawake license provides many benefits to startups, entrepreneurs, or more established operators who are looking for a reputable, flexible, and cost-efficient jurisdiction to obtain a license from.

Ron Mendelson

Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based business and financial consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over two decades of experience in corporate services, iGaming, international business, finance, licensing and legal matters, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.