Tuesday December 31,2013 : OKLAHOMA TRIBES AND FEDS CLASH OVER ONLINE GAMBLING WEBSITE
Federal officials block Oklahoma Internet gaming website, tribe sues.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma want to offer online gaming to international players, but they are currently locked in a legal tussle with federal officials.
Online gambling isn't generally allowed in Oklahoma, but the Cheyenne & Arapaho were in April this year authorised by the state to launch an internationally targeted, real-money online gambling site.
The Pokertribes.com site was initially launched as a free-play enterprise by the tribes with hopes of transforming it into a real money operation offering poker, blackjack, bingo, and pull tabs.
However, the approval of the Bureau of Indian Affairs is still awaited, and the federal intervention has apparently complicated the issue further.
The PEWStates website reports that the first-of-its-kind Oklahoma deal with Republican Gov. Mary Fallin last April was unusual in its scope, permitting the tribes to open a real money online gambling site targeting gamblers outside the United States
As part of the quid pro quo, the tribes agreed to close the online site Pokertribes.com that the state said was illegal.
They also agreed to give Oklahoma 10 percent of the revenues generated from online card games and up to 6 percent from online bingo, lottery and other games.
In August this year the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes called on the federal Obama Administration to ratify their pact with the state of Oklahoma, saying the international online gambling plan would generate millions for smaller tribes and for the state government.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Gov. Janice Prairie-Chief Boswell said:
“This is an innovative plan that benefits everyone involved. It’s the definition of the win-win. There is no reason for the federal government to intervene in what should be a matter between the tribe and the state. We hope that the Obama Administration allows this process to proceed, which will show that all tribes can get a fair chance in Washington.”
State and tribal officials commented that the Cheyenne and Arapaho initiative could set a precedent for the future and continue generating sorely needed funding for state governments and tribes alike.
Tribal casinos in Oklahoma generated $3.5 billion in revenues in 2011, second only to those in California. Oklahoma collected $134 million as part of its revenue sharing agreements with the tribes that year.
Other tribal groups that have established free-play "social" online gambling sites across the US will no doubt be watching the Oklahoma drama unfold as an indicator of their own chances of expanding into real-money action.
Tribal groups in at least three mid-West states and the state of Washington are known to be offering freeplay on the Play4Fun Network e-gaming and marketing platform offered by Williams Interactive – a subsidiary of Scientific Games – WMS Industries, and on a similar b2b white label proposition available from Bally Technologies.
These products all offer casinos and poker games suitable for delivery through both online and mobile channels in partnership with experienced internet companies like Amaya Gaming and 888.com.