Wednesday August 13, 2014 : WHITHER POKERTRIBES.COM?
A promising project bogged down by bureaucracy.
Patrick B. McGuigan, publisher of Oklahoma's The City Sentinel, and editor of CapitolBeatOK.com, resurrected the PokerTribes.com issue this week, warning that failure to act in the burgeoning online gambling sector could see the state's 39 tribal gambling interests lose ground.
InfoPowa readers may recall the PokerTribes project almost eighteen months ago, in which the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes signed a compact with state Governor Mary Fallin in which they promised to forego gamblers in Oklahoma in return for the state government's approval to operate the PokerTribes.com site internationally, giving up 20 percent of the profits therefrom to the state.
Lauded at the time as an opportunity for the Cheyenne and Arapaho to earn revenues in the international market, the "settlement agreement" as it was called looked like a win-win for state and tribes….until a year back the federal Department of the Interior intervened, declaring the compact in violation of technical aspects of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The state-tribal partnership responded with a redrafted agreement that addressed the Department's concerns, and this seemed to have achieved general acceptance by mid-September last year. And that appears to have been the point at which interest in the project died, with little news of any further development.
McGuigan points out that no one did anything wrong, and the legality of the revised compact does not appear to be in question.
He writes: "The framework for agreements between tribes and the state, under structures in place since 2005, allow sovereign negotiations over anything of value – in this case, the operational system (now available for viewing at PokerTribe.com) for iGaming worldwide. The accord addressed every nuance, including an old state Supreme Court decision on the “free play” issue."
He says the concept could still go forward, although with developments in other states, the window of opportunity is closing. Meanwhile PokerTribe.com is "…resting patiently in cyberspace, awaiting a tribal partner."
McGuigan concludes by observing: "To bring everything home: Whatever happened to worldwide gaming from an Oklahoma base of operations, you ask? It’s still there, but will anyone turn the key, or will international interests come to control the Oklahoma tribes through alternative free play sites that violate the 2005 compact?
"The transformational framework for online gaming – without bringing the poker-playing ability into the U.S. domestic market – still exists, awaiting a formal tribal partner from among Oklahoma’s 39 federally-recognized tribes.
"Make no mistake: If a simple reboot of the earlier accord does not come quickly, with a new partner for the state, an opportunity at billions of dollars in voluntary exchange – including a boost for state government revenues worth hundreds of millions of dollars, without a tax increase on the state population– will be lost."