Online poker regulation has failed to see any progress in the US since Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey launched their respective markets in 2013. One Native American tribe from Oklahoma doesn’t see that as a problem as they are preparing to launch an international, real money online poker operation, confirming that the site could be up and running “within a matter of weeks”.
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma has teamed up with Florida-based Universal Entertainment Group, a company that’s put a great deal of time and effort into building the software behind the impending launch of PokerTribe.com.
Through their licensing agreement, the tribe intends to launch the interactive poker room in US and international jurisdictions where online poker is already legally authorized. That would give players in three US states—Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey—as well as players in regulated global markets, the option to register an account and play online poker at the new website.
Preliminary Approval Received in Late 2015
In September, retired Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals Judge Charles Chapel was appointed as arbitrator in the case. Chapel was asked to review the existing Tribal-State Gaming Compact between the Iowa Tribe and State of Oklahoma, and decide whether the operation of an international online poker site violated that compact, or any other state or federal laws.
On November 24, Chapel decided that the launch of real money online poker games via PokerTribe.com was perfectly legal.
“Use of the Internet is merely using technology to play covered games as a way to increase tribal revenues,” read Chapel’s ruling. “It does not extend or restrict the scope of the games and does not amend the compact in any way.”
No Resistance from Oklahoma Governor
According to Michael McNutt, a spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the state will not oppose the ruling of the arbitrator. On the contrary, Gov. Fallin has consented to the Iowa Tribe’s right to launch the international real money online poker room.
As for taxation, McNutt was unable to provide a precise delineation of the percentage of generated revenue Oklahoma will collect from the operation. As per the terms of the existing gaming compact, McNutt explained that “the rate depends on how many take part in the tribe’s overseas gaming venture.”
One Last Hurdle
As is often the case with matters that deal in gray areas of the law, one obstacle remains – one hurdle left for the Iowa Tribe to vault before the website can launch. Although the tribe has already received the approval of Oklahoma’s arbitrary judge, they are making sure to tie up all loose ends by requesting a US District Court Judge certify the ruling.
With such certification in tow, the Iowa Tribe can launch its internet poker site without fear that any government agency will question its validity or legality.
Tribal Poker Site Primed for Launch
Isaias Almira, Group Manager for Universal Entertainment Group, said that after “working on this for many years”, PokerTribe.com is already primed for launch. “If the judge agrees to the thing,” said Almira, “it could be launched within a matter of weeks.”