The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma recently received the go-ahead from an Oklahoma judge to launch an online poker site called PokerTribe.com. The tribe’s victory comes after months of legal wrangling and represents a major step forward for US tribal gaming interests.
At the center of the legal battle was whether hosting an online poker site represented a violation of the state’s gambling compact with the Iowa of Oklahoma.
The issue, which was never hotly contested by the State, was turned over to an arbitrator late year. After extensive research, the arbitrator determined that the tribe could legally host the site, provided the servers remain on tribal lands, and that the tribe only serve international customers.
Once the arbitrator’s ruling was handed down, the Iowa took the ruling to U.S. District Judge David L. Russell, who confirmed it with relatively little in the way of commentary.
That clears the way for what looks to be the first online poker site hosted by an American Indian tribe, a fact the Iowa of Oklahoma Chairman Booby Walkup proudly touted on the tribe’s website saying:
We would rather be the first in the Nation than to allow another state and/or enterprise to beat us to the punch even though we know for a fact this concept can only be launched by a sovereign nation.
While the Tribe has plenty of experience in the land-based casino space, they already run three casinos in Oklahoma, they’ll be contracting their online operations to Universal Entertainment Group.
So far there’s been no word on when PokerTribe.com will actually launch.