Home Editorial The ongoing saga of Magic Palace 

The ongoing saga of Magic Palace 

Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte The Eastern Door

The evident closure of Magic Palace and the press releases by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) and Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) to attempt to clarify a few things about the business and its operations opened a pretty big can of worms. 

Now, people are seeing mafia on every corner and they want to open up a checkpoint so big it will… well… be really big! 

Just kidding on that last one, but the checkpoint argument is bound to rear its head soon enough. 

Is there organized crime in Kahnawake? Of course. There is too much money here. But is it in every single corner of the community? Of course not. The large majority of businesses run a clean operation. Besides, Fat Tony pinching a local mom-and-pop shop would be a waste of his soldier’s time. 

So, in this latest show of force against Magic Palace, the KGC and MCK have finally said enough is enough. But is it enough? 

The first time around a key person in the operation was found, through a La Presse investigation, to allegedly be connected to some very bad people. But they let Magic Palace off the hook because, you know, he was gone from the picture and that solved that, right? 

Nope. 

Organized crime doesn’t just go away, and using one man as a scapegoat just means that – they had a scapegoat. But a further KGC-initiated investigation by an outside party, following La Presse’s lead months later, showed plenty of issues that were not kosher, so they put a halt to it, even though their press releases kind of jumped around quite a bit. 

“….following consultation with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke, the Kahnawà:ke Gaming Commission (the “Commission”) directed that, based on numerous concerns arising out of investigations conducted over the past several months, Magic Palace be issued an Immediate Suspension and Show Cause Notice,” the initial shocking release revealed. 

“The effect of this directive is that Magic Palace must immediately close all of its gaming operations—including both Electronic Gaming Devices and Poker Room tables – pending further decision by the Commission. The Commission further directed Magic Palace to close Mirela’s Restaurant until it is satisfied that it is physically separated from Magic Palace’s gaming facility.” 

Further investigation? What does that mean exactly? Weren’t they just investigating for months? Are they really closed or is it okay if Joe Blow from down the road takes over and starts things back up again?  

But lo and behold, as of today (Friday) Mirela’s is back open, miraculously! Man, these guys work fast! 

For the MCK, the headline was kind of wonky, because it glossed over key information, before getting into the heart of what it was about. Burying the lead, so to speak: 

“MCK Terminates Royalty Agreement with Magic Palace for Electronic Gaming Devices,” said the headline. 

“Following a review of publicly available Court records that revealed that Magic Palace and the adjoining Mirela’s Restaurant were allegedly being used to commit money laundering and other crimes,” reads the MCK release. “The KGC commissioned an independent U.S. consulting group with a specialization in gaming audits and investigations to conduct an investigation. As part of the KGC’s reporting requirements, the results of the investigation were presented to the Council of Chiefs.” 

So putting up a wall will keep the undesirables from collecting money from Mirela’s, and all of a sudden profits will be diverted to… where, exactly? Which charity? Hmmmm. 

We will remind our readers, for the public record, that certain MCK chiefs questioned the validity of investigative reporter Vincent Larouche’s findings; you know, the one who dug all of this dirt up and did someone else’s job.  

Believe the media, especially when the council says not to. 

We know organized crime is here, so instead of the KGC, MCK, and Peacekeepers taking a reactive approach to these types of issues, a clear mandate should be given to clean Kahnawake up, and not just hope things magically change. 

This editorial was originally published in print on March 29 in issue 33.13 of The Eastern Door.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec. Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news. He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications. Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award. He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.