The Gazette newspaper in Montreal continues to unearth online gambling gems in its ongoing coverage of the Canadian Gaming Summit currently taking place in that city. The latest concerns an offer by the Mohawks to include the Ottawa or Quebec governments in its successful foray into Internet gambling back in 1999.
The newspaper reports that former Kahnawake Grand Chief Joe Norton told a standing-room only session at the conference on aboriginal gaming that a draft document between Quebec and Kahnawake was reluctantly rejected by the province just as the Mohawks were launching Mohawk Internet Technologies and an ultimately lucrative business.
"We offered both Canada and Quebec an opportunity to be a partner with us (in the venture) but they wouldn't," said Norton, who described MIT's computer servers that host gambling sites as "the jewel" of the community's gambling operations.
While both federal and provincial governments contend that only Quebec has jurisdiction over gambling within the province, MIT has operated unchallenged for almost a decade, The Gazette adds, claiming that pressure is growing in Canada to either stamp out online gambling or change legalization that would allow other players, such as horse-racing tracks, to compete for its profits.
At the conference, ex-chief Norton and lawyer Morden Lazarus, who has represented Kahnawake, urged that legalization "or a mechanism" be enacted to recognise gambling as a legitimate aboriginal activity under the Canadian constitution.
Norton assured delegates to the Canadian Gaming Summit that in the late 1990s, his band council was "very transparent with Canada and Quebec" about MIT, which is overseen by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The former chief revealed that numerous meetings were held, and that the project had been "tossed between Canada and Quebec" but ultimately left for the Quebec provincial authorities to decide.
In an interview with The Gazette, Norton said that former Native Affairs Minister Guy Chevrette told him that he was personally in favour of signing a draft document that addressed Kahnawake's gambling ventures and "created a relationship between Quebec and Kahnawake," but didn't provide for revenue-sharing.
After extensive debate and delays, Norton claims that Chevrette said: "I'm sorry, I've been advised as a minister, that this (gambling within the Mohawk reserve) is illegal and I can't sign it."
The newspaper reports that although Norton declined to reveal MIT's revenues, in 2006 MIT's operator – Continent 8 TechnologiesPLC – issued a prospectus for potential investors in anticipation of going public. This apparently claimed that MIT posted an annual net profit of $17.4 million U.S. on revenue of $24.7 million U.S. that year.
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