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File this in the “didn’t see THAT coming” file. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has issued a new edict that will force U.S. facing online poker license holders to either pull out of the United States or risk losing their license.

This move comes mere days prior to the transfer of Bovada over to Ignition Casino, thus meaning that either there will be one less U.S. facing site on October 1 or the site will begin operating completely unlicensed.

Kahnawake Joins Forces with the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement

The KGC released a press release on Monday regarding their new licensing criteria. Per the release, “After careful consideration, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (the “Commission”) has directed that an applicant or existing licensee that accepts players from a US State without being authorized by the US State to do so, is engaged in an activity that adversely affects Kahnawake’s jurisdictional integrity or reputation (the “regulatory directive”). An application from an operator that engages in this activity will be denied. Existing licensees have been advised that, not later than September 30, 2016, they must modify their operations to conform to the Commission’s regulatory directive or their licenses will be terminated.”

The release continues and states that the KGC has joined in a “regulatory collaboration” with the NJ DGE. Some might wonder why such as a partnership formed, but an article in the NY times may have been the catalyst.

The article revealed that NJ licensed Continent 8 provides services to Bovada. According to the piece, the DGE was contacted last year about the matter and a representative with the DGE said that regulatory proceedings would commence if the Continent 8 knowingly did business with an unregulated online poker room.

Since we have not heard anything about regulatory action against Continent 8, it can be assumed that either they feigned ignorance or that the partnership with Kahnawake was a result of their investigation.

Read More: Why Do Online Poker Sites Fail?

Partnership Will Eliminate Largest U.S. Facing Online Poker Option

Unless Ignition Casino chooses to drop their license with Kahnawake, the largest U.S. facing online poker room will cease allowing U.S. players on its site starting October 1. This is a major development for the unregulated online poker market as Bovada/Ignition has nearly double the peak hour traffic of the Winning Poker Network according to PokerScout.com.

According to the data, Bovada/Ignition presently has 2,390 cash game players during peak hours versus 1,264 on the Winning Poker Network. The resulting closure will force players to make a decision on whether they want to consider abstaining from playing on unregulated sites or move over to another site such as America’s Cardroom.

This is great news for the regulated online poker market as this partnership highlights the importance of providing a safe and secure environment for online poker players. While there are always going to be those that will press their luck, the elimination of the largest unregulated site not only strikes a blow to that sector of the industry but also should increase demand by players for states and the federal government to move forward with iPoker regulation.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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