iGaming Kahnawake Licence: A Comprehensive Guide


Starting an online casino requires a deep understanding of the iGaming industry, its legal frameworks and business processes. Any operator looking to succeed in the industry must hold a licence to offer their services legally. Of the international licences, the Kahnawake licence.

Obtaining a licence is a process that should be taken cautiously, as it is one of the keys to business growth. Taking a DIY approach is an option, but there are more straightforward ways to operate legally, such as a White Label Casino Solution.

Either way, whether you decide to obtain a licence on your own or have one provided to you, this article covers everything you need to know about the Kahnawake gambling licence, including its benefits, costs and much more.

Kahnawake Gambling Licence Main Points

Researching a licence on your own can be confusing because it encompasses various legal, economic, and technological aspects that can be challenging to understand if not clearly explained. So, in this article, you will find a simple and clear explanation of how the Kahnawake licence works.

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The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) oversees two primary categories of licences: those for interactive games and others for land-based casinos.

In the realm of interactive gaming, a variety of licences serve the needs of both B2B and B2C segments of the iGaming industry. Let’s delve into the licensing options available, each tailored to meet specific requirements and functionalities.

B2B Options

  • Interactive Gaming Licence (IGL) allows hosting services for iGaming companies within the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory (the Territory). It is exclusive, with only one licence issued to Mohawk Internet Technologies (MIT) since 1999.
  • Casino Software Provider Authorisation (CSPA) allows to operate gaming equipment hosted by an IGL holder. It also grants the right to issue licences for casino software to other online operators offering casino, betting, or poker services on their sites.

B2C Options

  • Client Provider Authorisation (CPA) is granted to companies offering Internet gambling services from a hosting facility of an IGL holder within the Territory. There is no limit on the number of CPAs that may be issued.
  • Live Dealer Studio Authorisation (LDSA) grants permission to operate a Live Dealer Studio, conduct Live Dealer Games and conduct interactive gaming-related activities within the Territory.

Other Options

  • Key Person Licence/Permit (KPL) issued to individuals performing key managerial or key operational functions within companies with CPA and CSPA licences. Getting this licence is the first step in the licensing process.
  • Interjurisdictional Authorisations (IJA): granted to businesses with an IGL from another jurisdiction that intends to bring some or all of their equipment and/or personnel to the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.

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Types of Gameplay Covered By Kahnawake Licences

Kahnawake licences offer operators a real opportunity to thrive within a regulated gaming environment. Here is why obtaining a Kahnawake licence should be a priority for your business:

Online Casinos

Under Kahnawake licences, online casinos provide players with a regulated environment for virtual gaming experiences. From classic table games to immersive slots, these platforms adhere to strict standards of fairness and player protection.

Sports Betting Platforms

Kahnawake licences cover sports betting platforms, ensuring a secure betting environment with robust risk control mechanisms to prevent fraud and safeguard bettors.

Live Dealer Casinos

Licensed by Kahnawake, live dealer casinos can offer immersive gaming experiences with real-time play and professional dealers, ensuring authenticity and fairness.

Land-Based Casinos

Besides online gaming, Kahnawake licences extend to land-based casinos, providing regulatory oversight for traditional casino establishments. Land-based casinos licenced by Kahnawake offer a secure and regulated environment for various casino games.

Land-Based Poker Rooms

Poker enthusiasts can enjoy a variety of poker variants in secure and regulated Kahnawake-licenced poker rooms.

A Brief Overview and History of Kahnawake Gambling Licence

The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a First Nations Reserve located in Quebec, Canada. It has the power of self-government, enabling it to formulate its gaming laws independently of Canada. It is among the first jurisdictions worldwide to begin regulating online gambling.

  • 1982: The Constitution Act 1982 officially recognises the Territory and confirms its right to regulate gaming operations.
  • 1996: The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), the region’s regulatory authority, is created to oversee compliance and licensing of land-based casinos. 
  • 1999: Kahnawake starts regulating interactive gaming by establishing the Interactive Gaming Regulations for licensing online casinos.

As of today, the KGC is authorised to:

  • Establish a legal framework for overseeing interactive gaming in Kahnawake.
  • Ensure responsible, equitable, and ethical conduct of interactive gaming.
  • Prevent any association between interactive gaming and unlawful activities.
  • Guarantee fair treatment of players, prompt delivery of winnings, and strict confidentiality of player information.
  • Safeguard individuals under eighteen (18) and other vulnerable individuals.

The KGC oversees a diverse range of operations, including more than 50 operators and licences for over 250 gaming operations worldwide. This includes one IGL, three CSPAs, and numerous CPAs. 

Kahnawake Licence in 2024

The regulation governing the current licensing process was established in 1999, marking a pivotal moment in the oversight of online gaming within the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. 

Setting stringent standards for fairness, security, and responsible gaming, they vest the KGC with authority to issue licences to operators meeting these criteria, solidifying Kahnawake’s reputation as a reputable jurisdiction for online gambling. 

Over time, these Regulations have evolved to adapt to industry advancements while maintaining a commitment to gaming integrity and player protection.

Recently, the KGC has undergone two relevant updates:

  • In October 2023, the KGC website underwent a complete revamp, making information more up to date and easier to find.
  • Licensing fees were increased during this period, prompting businesses to carefully consider the impact on their decision to obtain a licence.

A positive and noteworthy aspect of the KGC is that it has kept the application process and licensing regulations the same.

Advantages of the Kahnawake Licence: Why You Should Get the Kahnawake Licence?

The Kahnawake gaming licence is internationally respected and are considered a good option for companies looking to power their online casino or other iGaming brand. Particularly popular among businesses in North America and smaller startups, these licences offer several advantages. The key reasons for opting for a Kahnawake licence include:

  1. A range of licensing options provided by the KGC allows selecting the most suitable licence for online gambling activities, including casino games, poker, and sports betting.
  2. No taxes on gross revenue provide operators with a higher percentage of earnings for business growth.
  3. Relatively low application costs compared to licences such as Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and other European licences, although not as low as a Curacao Licence, provide a cost-effective option for operators. However, the complex bureaucracy is a drawback, recommending assistance from experienced companies.
  4. It is considered one of the more strict international licences in terms of compliance and best iGaming practices. The KGC reviews all user complaints and takes action if they are deemed valid, including revoking the licence.
  5. The licence is relatively quick to obtain. Once the application is submitted, which is the most time-consuming part, the review period and final approval are quick. It’s possible to obtain a Kahnawake licence in about four months. 
  6. The KGC prioritises player protection on websites operating under its licence. The Commission enforces strict conditions for operators to obtain and retain their licence, emphasising responsible and honest operations, along with fair treatment of players.

Kahnawake Licence Application Process

While the entire process unfolds over a span of approximately six months, the diligence invested in each phase contributes to the robustness and reliability of the Kahnawake iGaming Licence. Aspiring licences can navigate these stages with confidence, knowing that a meticulous approach ensures a secure and responsible gaming environment under the regulatory umbrella of the KGC:

  • Preparation and Compliance (1–3 months): Before initiating the application process, the company must ensure compliance with all requirements, including the availability of capital, the suitability of directors and executives, and the development of a robust business plan. This period may vary depending on the initial preparedness of the company.

    To start the application process for any of the Kahnawake licences, it is necessary to complete the following forms.

In addition to all forms, the following information must also be attached:

  • A biography or curriculum vitae for each director
  • Annual reports prepared by the corporation for the past three years.

* The fees for the licence to which it applies must also be paid before the licence application can be processed.

  • Application Phase (1–2 months): The company must submit an initial application to the KGC for its revision and investigation. The review process takes 4 to 8 weeks, depending on full disclosure and follows these steps:
  1. First, operators submit their application and fee to the KGC, which assigns a Compliance Officer to oversee the process.
  2. After the initial review, an investigation begins. The licence can be issued within the estimated timeframe if no further information is needed.
  3. The application is reviewed at the next KGC meeting. If rejected, the first-year annual fees are refunded.
  • Preliminary 6 Month Permit: Following the KGC decision, the applicant is granted a 6-month provisional licence with the following conditions:
    • It is mandatory to place the KGC logo on the licence holder’s website.
    • An HTML code must be added to the site for the Certificate of Good Standing

Together with the licence, the company receives a contact information sheet and the Self-Exclusion Player List.

During the preliminary period, the applicant company will undergo an audit to review its Schedule I Control System Submission. An approved agent will carry out the audit.

  • Licence Definitive Issuance: Upon completion of the audit and satisfaction of all requirements by the KGC, the full Kahnawake iGaming licence is issued.

The entire process, from initial preparation to licence issuance, typically spans six months subject to various factors. It’s important to note that this is a general estimate, and timelines may vary significantly based on each company’s circumstances and the workload of the KGC at any given time.

For operators with time-sensitive needs or who want to avoid any inconvenience that may delay licensing, SOFTSWISS offers a ’ready-to-go’ certified White Label solution – ensuring operators a smooth, reliable path into the iGaming market.

These solutions include the SOFTSWISS Casino Platform, the Game Aggregator, and the Sportsbook Platform

If you’re an operator who plans to obtain the licence themselves, as opposed to using a white label solution from a software supplier, here’s what you uneed to remember: once the licence (CPA, CSPA or LDSA) is obtained, it will be valid for five years. It is always subject to review by the KGC, which also has the power to terminate it if deemed necessary.

Kahnawake Gambling Licence Fees and Taxes

The Kahnawake gambling licence is competitive compared to other licences, such as MGA and Curaçao, because of taxes.

This is where Kahnawake’s territory offers a great advantage: Kahnawake licences have 0% corporate tax and no additional gaming tax. Not paying taxes definitely can tip the balance in favour of Kahnawake when evaluating different options.

In October 2023, there was a 14% increase in Kahnawake licence fees. However, these fees still align with the costs of licences from other jurisdictions such as the MGA. Let’s delve into the detailed breakdown:

IGL (Interactive Gaming Licence)

The application fee is USD 30,000, including:

  • The estimated cost of application revision by the KGC
  • The first annual licensing fee (refundable if an application is not granted)

*The fee of the KPL (USD 5,000) is not included.

From the second year, the annual fee is USD 15,000, and the renewal cost is USD 5,000.

CPA (Client Provider Authorizations) 

The application fee is USD 40,000, including:

  • The estimated cost of application revision by the KGC
  • The first annual licensing fee (refundable if an application is not granted)
  • One Key Person Permit in the Application Fee/ Renewal Application Fee

From the second year, the annual fee is USD 20,000, and the renewal costs USD 5,000, plus the KPL yearly renewal fee.

CSPA (Client Software Provider Authorisations)

The application fee is USD 40,000, including:

  • The estimated cost of application revision by the KGC
  • The first annual licensing fee (refundable if an application is not granted)
  • One Key Person Permit in the Application Fee/ Renewal Application Fee

Plus an additional USD 3,000 for each third-party online gaming operator listed for any duration within a calendar year.

From the second year, the annual fee is USD 20,000, and the renewal costs USD 5,000, plus the KPL yearly renewal fee.

LDSA (Live Dealer Studio Authorisations)

The application fee is USD 30,000, including:

  • The estimated cost of application revision by the KGC
  • The first annual licensing fee (refundable if an application is not granted)
  • One Key Person Permit in the Application Fee/ Renewal Application Fee

From the second year, the annual fee is USD 10,000, and the renewal costs USD 5,000, plus the KPL yearly renewal fee.

KPL (Key Person Licence)

The application fee is USD 5,000, including:

  • The estimated cost of application revision by the KGC
  • The first annual licensing fee (refundable if an application is not granted)

From the second year, the annual fee is USD 1,000, and the renewal costs USD 2,500.

IJA (Inter-Jurisdictional Authorisations) with the application of USD 2,000.

Why Choose SOFTSWISS to Operate Under the Kahnawake Licence

We have taken a complete tour through the benefits, fees and application process of Kahnawake licences. As you may have noticed, the processing time to obtain this licence is relatively short. 

Still, it is essential to submit all documents correctly, as KGC’s review and audits are very rigorous. Even the slightest mistake can lead to setbacks costing both time and money, which is counterproductive in such a dynamic market. 

Opting for a Kahnawake licence in collaboration with an experienced company in the iGaming industry like SOFTSWISS provides a substantial advantage over operators who choose independent licensing. Here is why:

  • Save time and resources

Launching with SOFTSWISS expedites market entry, bypassing the application process’s complexities. Whether opting for the White Label solution or leveraging SOFTSWISS products like the Casino Platform, Sportsbook Platform, or Game Aggregator, you’ll save time, cut costs, and secure a robust infrastructure for iGaming success.

  • Bypass the hassle

The application review process for Kahnawake’s licences is known for its rigorous nature, posing a significant challenge for operators. However, SOFTSWISS acts as an intermediary and moderator by guaranteeing strict adherence to Kahnawake regulations.

  • Get a reliable partner 

Launching under SOFTSWISS services means focusing on your brand’s daily operations while SOFTSWISS manages compliance with Kahnawake licence guidelines. This relieves you from handling legal intricacies independently, providing peace of mind in navigating the iGaming landscape.

  • Quickly access the international market

SOFTSWISS is a well-established entity in the international iGaming market. Partnering with us ensures a direct and expedited entry compared to navigating the process independently.

Is It Worth the Effort to Get a Kahnawake Licence?

A licence is mandatory to operate and offer online casino and bookmaker services legally. 

If your goal is to operate internationally and establish a presence in the global iGaming market, a Kahnawake licence stands out as a primary choice. 

Only a select few licences engage as many countries as the Kahnawake licence. Moreover, its swift acquisition process and tax-free status make it an option that is highly worthwhile to pursue. 

Can Players Play With No Worries On Sites Operating Under a Kahnawake Licence?

Players can engage in gaming and gambling with absolute peace of mind at any  Kahnawake-certified site. The KGC maintains strict standards for user protection and support, mandating operators to address user complaints and issues earnestly and ensure swift resolution.

Which Organisations Does the Kahnawake Gaming Commission Work With to Audit and Investigate Operators?

The KGC collaborates with entities known as Approved Agents to conduct testing, audits, and verification to ensure that applicants meet the essential technical requirements for obtaining the licence. This partnership ensures that operators can provide services in accordance with the required quality standards.

How Can Players Verify That a Casino or Online Gambling House is Licensed By Kahnawake?

Any operator obtaining a Kahnawake licence must have the KGC logo on its official site. Players can validate the KGC licence status across Kahnawake-certified websites by following this link.

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