Industry Reports

Loto-Quebec Keeps Quiet about Position on Kahnawake’s Electronic Gaming Expansion

Kahnawake’s community has always been strongly opposing casino operation within the region, but for the past eight years, Playground Poker venue has been in operation as a poker hall where various poker festivals have been finding their home. Now the venue has undergone an expansion adding various Electronic Gaming Devices, but the management claims that these are not slot machines and the venue does not breach any existing regulations in Quebec.

Definitions are crucial when it comes to the operation of a given facility, as they could make or break its operation in the long run. When it comes to Playground Poker, the situation appears to be complicated. Located within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, this venue launched operation as a poker venue where poker cash games and poker festival to the likes of World Cup of Cards, partypoker LIVE, and Millions North America take place. Its management still claims that this is not a casino venue.

Electronic Gaming Devices Are not Slots

Mackenzie Kirby is Senior Manager of the location and an avid supporter of the idea that Playground Poker Club is not a casino venue. As many as 350 Electronic Gaming Devices were added to the poker offerings available on site, but he said that by definition and because of their characteristics, those are not slot machines. Even though they might resemble such with the spinning images they feature and the loud sounds they produce this expansion should not qualify the venue as a casino.

He further specified that there is also a fine difference between Video Lottery Terminals and the Electronic Gaming Devices available on site. According to the information provided by the gaming venue itself, for the first two months of operation, those devices have been able to grant jackpots reaching almost CA$1,000,000. The player who manages to cross the mark with their cash payout would bring celebration to the venue with confetti and champagne for everyone present on site.

This move was possible as a result of the close collaboration between the gaming venue and Kahnawake Gaming Commission, as every aspect of the new additions had to be thoroughly discussed. Management had to figure the most appropriate way in which it would fill the gaming flor adjacent to the main poker venue, as well as the layout of the gaming devices. The launch of operation took place at the beginning of January and even then, management stated that Playground Poker maintains its main focus on poker action.

Expansion Would Bring CA$6 Million to Coffers

When it comes to the community, one must know that it is not a casino-friendly one. There have been three times in the past when Kahnawake has said a collective No to casino operation within its area. Previous prospects of a CA$50-million casino facility construction were nixed as well. They were all held after Playground Poker welcomed its first patrons in 2010, making it clear that poker operation was the only gaming the locals wanted.

The recent expansion adding the electronic devices caused locals to voice their opinion, stating that a casino venue is such despite the way it is referred to. Problem gambling concerns have also been swirling around the community. Only recently Magic Palace saw a soft opening offering 371 Electronic Gaming Devices, whereas additional ones would be installed soon. There are no poker tables available on site and for now, electronic gaming would be its sole offering.

This venue is the second part of an expansion project expected to attract CA$6 million to Kahnawake Mohawk coffers. Could this pilot project be in direct breach of Loto-Quebec and its powers to offer games of chance across the province? For the time being, all officials remain silent and refuse to reveal their position on the subject. However, Finance Minister Éric Girard’s spokesperson stated that a conversation is in progress eyeing a mutually beneficial arrangement in the foreseeable future.