A Good Name is More Precious than Silver

Published August 24, 2008

A Good Name is More Precious than Silver

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has spent a decade building their reputation as trusted online casino regulator. But have one too many poker cheating scandals put them back at square one?

By now, we're all aware of the past year's cheating scandals involving the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Specifically, the scandals involved two online poker rooms: Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, which were licensed by Kahnawake. In each case, the scenario was the same: former employees of the poker rooms used their inside knowledge to set up fraudulent accounts and view their opponents' cards, thereby winning millions of dollars.

When the scandals broke, Kahnawake, to its credit, reimbursed all the affected players, but imposed only modest fines (Absolute Poker, a business with a multi-million dollar annual profit, was fined only $500,000), and claimed only that the issues were "being investigated so that steps could be taken."

This was not a resolution, nor did it give confidence to the thousands of poker players who believed that a poker room 'regulated and licensed' by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was better, or at least more diligently watched, than other poker rooms. Kahnawake needed to take serious action, and especially to publish the names of the malefactors and the steps being taken to prevent future online poker fraud. The Commission failed to do this.

While all of this puts Kahnawake in a poor light, the situation is not without its bright points. Online poker rooms are only part of Kahnawake's operation; the lion's share of their regulatory activities is in the online casino industry, and there the Gaming Commission's operation is far more transparent. Most of Kahnawake's licensed casinos are also monitored by eCOGRA, and are required to submit monthly auditor's reports. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the casinos are found to operating fairly.

Because of the Commission's fair and transparent casino operations, they have earned a chance to show improvement in their oversight of poker rooms. They need to take notice, however, that this is not a reprieve; Kahnawake will need to make true and transparent changes in the way that poker rooms are regulated in order to satisfy the online players' community. While the brouhaha has died down, people are still talking, and they are still watching. Official regulation is good, but sometimes, a little grass roots regulation is even better.

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