Kahnawake gaming license: the complete guide

Gambling Accounts
Xace
Marketing
October 18, 2022
5 min read

If you are researching where to base your new online gaming business, it won’t be long before you come across Kahnawake. As one of the longest-established providers of iGaming licenses, the Mohawk territory, located near Montreal in Canada, is highly regarded for its stability, fairness and transparency. It can be an excellent place to start a web-based casino, sportsbook or poker room, especially for start-ups that don’t have huge sums of money to play with.

Let’s learn more about the Kahnawake gaming license and see if it’s the right option for your iGaming company.

Background of the Kahnawake gaming license

Kahnawake is a Mohawk (indigenous American) territory of around 8,000 people located close to the city of Montreal, Canada. The Kahnawake Nation is a First Nations reserve, meaning it is allowed to make its own laws around things like taxation, company law and licensing.

Gaming licenses in the territory are overseen by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission which was established in 1996. It governs land-based poker rooms in Kahnawake, as well as a large number of online gaming sites. Kahnawake was one of the first places in the world to identify the potential of online gaming. In 1999 it introduced regulations around interactive gaming on the internet which covers web-based casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks.

As an early mover in online gambling, Kahnawake initially cornered a large share of the market. By 2010, researchers estimated that about 60% of online gambling traffic ran through its servers. This portion has almost certainly gone down as many other nations now offer online gaming licenses, but it shows how far ahead Kahnawake was.

What online gaming licenses are available in Kahnawake?

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission essentially offers two kinds of gaming license, although in reality you will only be able to apply for the second type.

Interactive Gaming License (IGL)

An IGL allows the license provider to open a co-location facility (i.e.server racks) where they can lease out space to other companies that wish to offer online games in Kahnawake. Only one company has ever been allocated this license – Mohawk Internet Technologies, a web hosting firm set up in 1998. IGL’s can only ever be issued to a company owned by a Mohawk person, so while it’s technically possible that another business may apply for an IGL in future,only a Kahnawake Mohawk could do so.

Client Provider Authorization (CPA)

This kind of license allows the holder to run an interactive gaming website from Mohawk Internet Technologies’ facilities – this is the type of license that most iGaming companies would want to apply for.

If you apply for a CPA license, you are allowed to offer a very wide range of online gaming products, including casino games, slots, poker, and sports betting. It’s also good to know that you’re able to run multiple websites with just one license.

There are a handful of other types of licenses available in fairly specific circumstances. For example, the Inter-Jurisdictional Authorization allows a company that holds a license in another jurisdiction to have some staff or equipment in Kahnawake. Other licenses include Casino Software Provider Authorization and Live Dealer Studio Authorization.

Who else has an iGaming license in Kahnawake?

As a longstanding provider of iGaming licences, there are many companies currently operating through the territory. In 2022, the Gaming Commission’s website lists:

  • 37 individual iGaming companies who run 93 separate websites
  • 2 casino software providers

What taxes do iGaming companies pay in Kahnawake?

 There is a 0% corporate tax rate for Kahnawake online gaming businesses. There is also no gaming tax – all of which makes it an attractive place to set up your firm!

What are the fees for a Kahnawake gaming license?

 Assuming that you will be applying for a Client Provider Authorization, the following fees will apply:

Fee Type Amount in USD When do you pay?
Application fee $40,000 On application
Key Person Permit $5,000 On application
Annual fees $20,000 Annually
Renewal application fee $5,000 Every five years

 

If your application is not granted, the good news is that your initial application fees will be refunded.

What’s the Kahnawake gaming license application process like?

Applying for a Kahnawake gaming license is generally viewed as fairly smooth and efficient. Assuming you provide all the required paperwork, the process generally takes between four and eight weeks – comparable, if not faster, than many other offshore gambling licenses.

The full application process is listed on the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s website. But to summarise:

  • First, you must appoint a Key Person
  • Next, collect all paperwork, including:

- Certificate of no criminal record

- Certified passport copies

- Birth certificate

- Bank references

- Personal financial statements

- Utility bills

- Description of the business, games offered, and software used

  • You then submit your application and pay the fees
  • If approved, you can then launch your online casino, sportsbook or poker room

Your initial license will be issued for six months only. The Gaming Commission will then review your company’s performance and decide whether or not to extend your license.

Other things to consider alongside your license application

 Besides applying for your Kahnawake gaming license, you’ll also need to incorporate a license holding company and contracting company in Kahnawake. And you will need to open an iGaming payment account to process deposits and pay out winnings.

Rules and principles around iGaming licenses in Kahnawake

If you wish to run an iGaming website from Kahnawake, you will need to comply with a set of key principles:

  • Gaming must be offered in a fair, honest, and responsible manner
  • Players must be treated fairly and transparently
  • Payments should be made swiftly
  • Player data should be held securely
  • Minors and vulnerable people must not be exposed to online gambling

Who is a Kahnawake gaming license suitable for?

Although a Kahnawake gaming license would be a good option for most online gaming companies, they are perhaps best suited to gaming start-ups. The comparably low application fees (and the fact they’re refundable if permission isn’t granted) is certainly appealing, not to mention the 0% tax rate. That means you’ll be able to reinvest more of your profits in growing your business. And, since the license allows you to open multiple websites, you can diversify your business as you expand.

Pros and cons of a Kahnawake gaming license

If you’re considering applying for a Kahnawake gaming license, here are some of its strengths and weaknesses:

Pros:

  • A well respected and trusted licensing authority – meaning gamers will feel confident gambling or betting with you
  • Known for transparency
  • Mohawk Internet Technologies is respected for its state-of-the-art facilities
  • Flexibility – you can run multiple types of websites with just one license
  • Low fees and 0% tax

Cons:

  • The CPA license allows you to operate in all markets except the USA. If you wish to offer online gaming there, this license isn’t the one for you.
  • Some gaming operators find the application process relatively bureaucratic compared to other more light-touch jurisdictions.
  • Although Mohawk Internet Technologies offers top quality facilities, some larger operators might find they need more juice.

Your payment processing needs sorted for Kahnawake gaming

If you’ve decided to launch your online sportsbook or gaming website in Kahnawake, you will of course need a payment account to accept players’ deposits.

Xace provides online payments accounts that are designed specifically for the needs of iGaming operators. Our accounts are available in multiple currencies - including CAD – and we’re authorised to offer our services to Kahnawake companies.

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