One of California’s Native American tribes – the Santa Ysabel Tribe – is determined to move ahead with plans to launch an online poker site. The tribe is based out of San Diego County and it has taken steps to get online poker games operational in California under PrivateTable.com.
Legal Issues Related to PrivateTable.com
The issue of legality is difficult where Native American Tribes in California are concerned. From the perspective of the Santa Ysabel Tribe, they believe that they have full legal rights to offer online poker games to residents of California. Their defence is predicated on the fact that inter-tribal online gaming has been legal for years already. In fact, Class II games (including poker) have enjoyed exclusive regulatory status since 1999. Online poker falls under the legal framework of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
On a broader scale, legal analysts are of the opinion that the constructs of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act do not apply to residents of California outside of tribal lands. Some lawmakers recommend that the specific details of IGRA legislation need to be revisited to address Internet gaming. There is yet another school of thought that contends that neither State nor Federal Law contains any restrictions on the rights of the tribes to offer online poker (Class II online gaming).
Point of Origin is Legally Justified Say Santa Ysabel Tribe
Another issue that has captured the attention of lawmakers is that of the point of origin of the online gaming activity. Since the Santa Ysabel Tribe has its servers within Native American land, they contend that it is fully legal to offer online poker games to legal-age residents of California. In much the same way, New Jersey online gaming officials also stressed that only online games originating in Atlantic City are to be considered in the state of New Jersey.
The proposed date of the launch of real-money online poker games for PrivateTable.com is uncertain. However, online poker games for fun are readily available at PrivateTable.com. The most recent tweet (August 6th 2014) announced that players can compete to win an iTunes or Google Play gift card. A set date for real-money games has not been announced yet. PrivateTable uses a variant of Dobrosoft software.
The tribe will attempt to substantiate its push for regulated online poker via three documents including: Interactive Gaming, Responsible Gambling and Backgrounds and Licensing. Only legal age California residents (physically present in the state) will be able to play cash games and tournaments. In any event, the legal ramifications of launching a real-money online poker site without state legislature approval will generate lots of buzz.