The state of Oklahoma says it won’t stand in the way of a federally recognized Indian tribe seeking to launch an online gambling site.
In December, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma sued the state in federal court after the state questioned whether the tribe’s plan to launch PokerTribe.com – an online gambling site catering to non-US customers – fell within the bounds of their tribal-state gaming compact.
As reported by Law360.com, the state sought arbitration to resolve the standoff, and the arbitrator ultimately determined that there was no conflict with the compact, provided the online operations were located within tribal lands. The tribe operates three brick-and-mortar casinos in the state.
In February, the tribe applied for summary judgment, and on Wednesday the state told the federal judge handling the suit that there was no reason not to certify the arbitrator’s decision.
This isn’t the first time the state has been down this road, having approved a similar request by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma in 2013. But the federal Department of Indian Affairs objected to the plan based on their belief that the approval fell afoul of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and the tribes eventually abandoned their online ambitions following a change in tribal leadership.
Both tribes’ online plans are/were based on technology provided by Universal Entertainment Group (UEG), a Florida-based company whose owner Fereidoun ‘Fred’ Khalilian was previously on the wrong end of a $4.2m settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive telemarketing operations.
UEG’s website currently features yet another new “coming soon” online gambling venture, InSkyCasino.com, which purports to offer “legalized real money play Online Casino launched by one of the American Indian Tribes from their sovereign nation to and for In-flight players!”
CalvinAyre.com remains an unabashed supporter of tribal involvement in gambling opportunities, but as we’ve stated before, PokerTribe.com might as well be dubbed PieInTheSkyCasino.com for all the benefit it will bring the Iowa Tribe.
For one thing, the federal government’s issues with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’ site were never resolved in court, and the feds can be counted on to reiterate their objections.
Secondly, it’s unclear who will pay the sizable marketing costs that PokerTribe.com would need to stand out from the hordes of established online gambling sites to which the international community already has access.
Finally, Oklahoma’s deal with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes called for the state to receive a 20% cut of online revenue, which wouldn’t have left much for the tribe after UEG’s costs are taken out.
Speaking of, UEG reportedly earned $9.4m from the Cheyenne and Arapaho before the new tribal leadership cut off the money taps. All without taking a single online wager. How much will this adventure cost the Iowa Tribe?