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There’s slots of magic in the air at the Palace

Get your hands on some money magic with the new Electronic Gaming Devices at the cutting-edge game stop – Magic Palace. With the EGD’s bright colours and endearing function, owners are hoping the slot machines will be a hit. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

The day has finally come. Magic Palace is open to the public and is ready to take on the gaming world.

On the cold and intensely windy February 8, Magic Palace (formerly Poker Palace) opened its doors to the public to feast their eyes on their gaming machines.

The house contains 371 Electronic Gaming Devices (EGDs), with 66 arriving soon, according to the owners. Magic Palace used to be Poker Palace, but there is not a poker table on site anymore.

Magic Palace management held a press conference at their grand-opening on the Friday, for the owners and community to see what they have in store.

The conference was introduced by Louie John Diabo and general manager Antoine Mehallah.

“I just began working for them (Magic Palace) last week on giving them advice on a press conference, events, and other activities, that’s why I’m here,” said Diabo, formerly director of finance at the Kahnawake Education Center.

“We’re going to look at possible expansion, and that’s my skill, I build buildings. I’m also the project manager and general business manager for Magic Palace.”

Diabo will also handle financial controls, marketing and policy development.

“We’re competing with big players like Playground and the Montreal Casino, and if they want to raise it a level or two, we’re prepared for that. We have something that they don’t, a fancy and finely-run restaurant – Mirela’s.”

The building is connected to Mirela’s restaurant and offers food to the players of Magic Palace and those looking for a nice dinner. Alcoholic beverages are available to EGD players at no charge.

The building currently has over 20 employees from Kahnawake and they plan on having more in the future. There is the talk of a possible course in French that will help community members get work.

“I was introduced to this project in October, and I take care of getting this place started,” said Mehallah.

“Our goal is to have a possible expansion in the future, and we can’t wait to see more people and have an opportunity to create a wider environment.

“We have the same structure as poker palace, we didn’t have many changes, but safety was a big issue with us. We worked with the Kahnawake Fire Brigade (KFB), with the rules and regulations. It was a long process to get the machines and get to where we are today,” he said.

“It’s been a long time coming, from negotiations that transpired with the MCK, to the regulations, it took time, and at the end of the day we’re happy this arrived now,” said co-owner Barry Alfred.

Poker Palace had its challenges and due to a lack of fluid clientele, closed its doors.

“It was a combination of different things, we re-opened poker, and it didn’t go as well as we anticipated and it was always a vision to combine the two (poker and machines), and because different things transpired, we still plan on putting in the poker tables soon,” he said.

“The vision is always to have a nice facility that’s prosperous and successful. Wverybody wants to be successful; what we were doing with poker became a hard deal, with our huge competitor Playground. We found something that we believe can be profitable to us and the community,” said co-owner Stanley Myiow.

“The successful business will help the community monetarily, and everyone will benefit from it. The goal is to contribute $1 million to the community. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake will determine where that money will go,” he added.

Myiow further explained that the goal is to give out $3 million at the end of the year back to the community and said more info would come in the future.

“The community or council did not have to donate one dollar, this is from us, and today, money will be going to the community based from the first dollar that goes in a machine,” he said.

Many community members have argued this is nothing but another casino.

“I’m not going to argue with someone who says that, it’s a matter of perspective. I’ll tell you what we don’t have, we don’t have roulette, blackjack or any table games, that real casinos do have,” said Myiow.

“What we have is an electronic gaming facility. Do casinos have these games? Yes they do, but they don’t only have them. There is no real perfect definition for it, but we want to inform the community that this isn’t a casino.”

“The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) and the MCK have given their blessing with something like this, for me, on management’s opinion, the pure definition of a casino is that there are table games and cash games,” said Diabo.

“Here, the environment we are creating is very controlled. We don’t want local individuals to go and lose their house on a machine; our strategy is that our maximum bet is $10 and the minimum bet is 80¢. There are restrictions on all our machines and ATMs; we have a maximum of $300 for a dispensary.”

Diabo and Mehallah further explained if they noticed someone dropping hundreds of dollars on a machine, when in reality they don’t have that kind of money, they would step in and help or stop them.

The project began in October with the idea of having a majority of EDG over their previous poker house.

“For sure we’d like to see an expansion, we’re tight right now. Playground expanded quite a bit over the years, and we plan to expand as well,” said Alfred. “The idea of a hotel will have to be evaluated with the land bases and the areas.”

Louie John Diabo and Antoine Mehallah held a presentation for the public, unveiling the highly anticipated magic palace, along with plans of possible expansion. (Tehostirehens Deer, The Eastern Door)

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