As a consequence of an ongoing investigation into money laundering, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) has shuttered the Magic Palace Montreal and revoked its gaming license.

Situated in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just across the river from Montreal, Canada, the casino intends to challenge the ruling. “As per this directive, Magic Palace is compelled to cease all gaming activities, encompassing both Electronic Gaming Devices and Poker Room tables, until the Commission reaches a final decision,” the statement affirms.

Sinaloa Allegations

According to court documents obtained by La Presse in October 2023, an investor in Magic Palace, Luftar Hysa, of Albanian origin, allegedly engages in money laundering activities on behalf of Mexican traffickers, utilizing the casino in Kahnawake for this purpose. Hysa is under investigation in three countries due to suspected connections with Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Cartel, widely recognized as one of the most formidable and aggressive drug-trafficking entities globally.

“Everything indicates that Luftar Ali Hysa infiltrated the Kahnawake Indian reservation to facilitate money laundering activities on behalf of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, as well as for his own account,“ an RCMP officer told the Montreal courthouse under oath, according to La Presse.

In October, the gaming commission concluded that Hysa was unsuitable to hold a key person license, prompting Magic Palace to reportedly sever ties with him.

‘Undisclosed Beneficiary’

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake recently enlisted the services of a U.S. firm specializing in casino audits to conduct an investigation. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the council disclosed that the probe uncovered the existence of an undisclosed beneficiary owner of Magic Palace who is not affiliated with the Mohawk First Nation. According to the council, this beneficiary owner exerted significant control over the casino operations and received the majority of its profits, which would contravene the terms governing the casino’s operation on the reservation, stipulating that it must benefit the community.

Lawyer Pierre L’Ecuyer, representing Magic Palace owners Barry Alfred and Stan Myiow, acknowledged that Luftar Hysa was an investor in the casino. However, L’Ecuyer insinuated that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provided erroneous information to the gaming commission regarding Hysa’s alleged ties to cartels. “Mr. Hysa faced allegations in Mexico related to his involvement in the casino industry,” L’Ecuyer informed La Presse. “However, Mr. Hysa has been completely exonerated, and it became evident that these allegations were fabricated by competitors in the same industry who sought to remove him from the business.”