Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma Prepares to Launch State's First Online Gaming Site
A small, 800-member tribe in Oklahoma is on the verge of becoming the first tribe in the state to launch an international gaming website with cash payouts.
The planned websites, Pokertribe.com and Pokertribe.gov, will be available to players in states that have legalized online gambling, such as New Jersey and Nevada, and to the international marketplace. Players will additionally be able to access the website on some cruise ships and airline flights.
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma operates two brick-and-mortar casinos in Perkins and Chandler, Oklahoma.
Following a ruling by the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma that certain online games will not violate the tribe's class III gaming compact with Oklahoma or current state or federal law, the tribe released a statement about its plans to pursue developing two sites.
"Business on the Internet is coming fast and furious to all of our lives and is taking over more and more of our daily activities, regardless of whether it’s business or personal," Chairman Bobby Walkup said in a statement to The City Sentinel.
"To this end The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma ("Tribe") is picking up on online gaming where others left off via the newly minted domain names of Pokertribe.com and Pokertribe.gov."
The arbitrator, retired judge Charles Chapel, wrote in his ruling that "use of the Internet is merely using technology to play covered games as a way to increase tribal revenues."
"It does not extend or restrict the scope of the games and does not amend the compact in any way," Chapel wrote.
NewsOK.com reported that the Iowa Tribe hopes to debut at least one gaming website, pokertribe.com, sometime in 2016. The website will be available to participants from other countries to play real-time casino games with real money. In the beginning, the website will offer poker, but eventually games will include bingo, blackjack, pull-tab, slots and baccarat games, according to NewsOK.com.
Payouts to Oklahoma & Statewide Implications
It's currently unclear what percentage of its online revenue the tribe will pay to the State of Oklahoma, but it will increase based on the traffic to the site, Michael McNutt, a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, told NewsOK.com.
“The rate depends on how many take part in the tribe's overseas gaming venture,” McNutt said.
The Iowa Tribe will launch the Pokertribe.com website through an exclusive software licensing deal with Florida-based Universal Entertainment Group.
"The arbitrator's decision applies to all tribes in the state of Oklahoma," Tribal Chairman Bobby Walkup said in the statement. "Every tribe has the same opportunity as the Iowa Tribe to engage in internet gaming consistent with the arbitrator's decision."
Previously in 2014, after a change in tribal leadership, the Concho, Oklahoma-based Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes stepped out of a deal with Universal Entertainment Group to run a similar domain name (with the plural "tribes"): pokertribes.com. According to a 2013 court filing, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes estimated that "pokertribes.com could generate as much as $132 million annually by 2018 if the website attracted just 2 percent of the worldwide online gaming market," NewsOK.com reported.
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