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Kahnawake poker house ordered to close amid 'concerns' after investigation

The Magic Palace poker house in Kahnawake was ordered to close on March 25, 2024, after 'concerns' about its operation. (Dave Touniou, CTV News) The Magic Palace poker house in Kahnawake was ordered to close on March 25, 2024, after 'concerns' about its operation. (Dave Touniou, CTV News)

The owners of the Magic Palace poker house in Kahnawake are planning to appeal the decision to order its doors closed on Monday.

The owners' lawyer said that Kahnawake Peacekeepers arrived at the establishment on Route 132 on Montreal's South Shore, told customers to leave and closed the establishment down, along with Mirela's restaurant, which is in the same building in the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community.

A Kahnawake Gaming Commission news release on Monday says that, following a consultation with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, Magic Palace was issued a suspension of its permit "based on numerous concerns arising out of investigations conducted over the past several months."

"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 release reads.

The release adds that Mirela's can reopen as soon as the entrance from the restaurant to the gaming house is blocked.

A gaming commission release on Tuesday said that the Mohawk Council terminated its contract to operate electronic gaming devices and that the establishment’s license is invalid. The news release adds that the Magic Palace poker rooms continue to be suspended.

The gaming commission has licensed and regulated all gaming activities in Kahnawake since 1996.

Lawyer Pierre L'Ecuyer represents Magic Palace owners Barry Alfred and Stan Myiow, both Kahnawake community members, and suggested the RCMP gave the Kahnawake Gaming Commission "false information" related to investor and consultant Luftar Hysa, a Montreal resident with roots in Albania.

"They've (allegations) been there for about a year, and it stems from the fact that Mr. Hysa, who's an investor, had some allegations made in Mexico where he has some casinos," said L'Ecuyer. "Mr. Hysa has been completely cleared and it was clear that these allegations were made because people in the same business wanted Mr. Hysa out of the business."

The gaming commission said in a news release in October that Hysa "was unsuitable to be licensed by the commission as a key person," and Magic Palace cut ties with him.

"The commission's decision followed a lengthy and thorough investigation conducted by the commission's third-party agents," the release reads.

L'Ecuyer maintains that Magic Palace is above board, and he will appeal the decision before the gaming commission within 30 days. If that fails, he said, he will fight the case in Quebec Superior Court.

"There's no criminal infraction whatsoever, no prostitution, no loansharking, nothing that ever come since Magic Palace has been in place," he said.

A Kahnawake Peacekeepers spokesperson said there is no active investigation into Magic Palace.

L'Ecuyer said his clients feel that outside governments are upset at the community's gaming businesses and would like them closed.

CTV News has requested comment from the RCMP and Mohawk Council and have not received word back. Top Stories

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