Daniel Montour has resigned from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), but the regulator will still be able to meet quorum and operate at a pivotal moment.
“There’s just not enough time in my life for that,” said Montour of his decision.
The KGC has recently been facing pressure following a report, originally published in La Presse, that Magic Palace has allegedly been used to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel.
The commission subsequently revoked a key person license held by Luftar Hysa, the subject of the report, but the gaming facility continues to operate.
“They’re continuing operating because they have a gaming permit, and unless that gets revoked by the KGC, that’s the basis of how Magic Palace and anybody else who has a gaming permit can operate,” said Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief Mike Delisle, who leads the gaming file.
An advisory notice released last week by the KGC described the commission as “greatly concerned” and indicated that a third-party agent will “thoroughly review the operations” of Magic Palace and Mirela’s restaurant. Additional steps may be taken depending on the results of the review, according to the statement.
“They’re looking for financial accountability, obviously, and assurances that what has been told to the commission and Council remains the direction moving forward, meaning Mr. Hysa is no longer involved in the operation,” Delisle said.
Asked whether the third-party review will take a deep look into the financials of Magic Palace, Delisle said it’s still to be determined what will be covered by the review. “That’s what’s being discussed at the gaming commission at this point,” he said.
As three commissioners remain in place, the MCK may not appoint a replacement for Montour, according to Delisle.
At least two previous reports relating to the situation have already been delivered to the KGC by third-party agents, one in May and one around the time the allegations broke earlier this month, according to MCK chief Ryan Montour.
Magic Palace contributed $3.8 million to the MCK’s bottom line in the previous fiscal year through electronic gaming devices (EGD), which were brought to the facility along with Playground Poker in a pilot project that ended in February. The licenses continue to be held by the gaming facilities.
However, Delisle said he wants to assure the community that local authorities are taking the situation seriously.
“It changes everything in terms of how things are being operated,” he said, adding it is being worked out what kinds of repercussions there will be, such as continuous monitoring.
“Nothing has been swept under the rug,” he said, “because the two press releases that went out from KGC and MCK are obviously not the end of the story, and it’s a continuing process.”
Although KGC commissioners have always been appointed by the MCK, the Kahnawake Gaming Law indicates that commissioners should be elected, meaning the KGC has been operating as an interim commission since it was established. The law is slated for review, according to Delisle.
By Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 27, 2023 at 12:17