Coeur d'Alene logoRuling Against Idaho Tribe Could Spell Trouble For PrivateTable In California

Last week, an Idaho federal court ordered that the Coeur d’Alene tribe cease offering poker tournaments to its casino patrons. The decision comes after the state filed a suit against the tribe claiming that it was breaking Idaho gambling law, which specifically prohibits poker. The ruling could also have a significant effect on California’s Santa Ysabel tribe, which is set to offer real money online poker through its website, PrivateTable, in the coming weeks.

The tribe argues that since poker is a game of skill, it is within its right to offer the tournaments under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The state disagrees, however, and points to the fact that poker is one of the games that has been made explicitly illegal in Idaho.

This recent court decision will force the tribe to shut down its poker room until a resolution can be reached regarding the state’s lawsuit. “Obviously, were very disappointed in Judge Winmill’s decision,” said Chief Allan, tribal chairman. “Poker is so widely played across the state by so many different people and organizations that it sounds ridiculous to say that everyone playing poker in the state of Idaho is breaking the law, but that is what this decision says.”

Reverberations in California

The possible repercussions of the Coeur d’Alene decision for the Santa Ysabel in California were pointed out by industry writer Martin Schapiro (@PokerXanadu) on Twitter:

This means that the Idaho ruling now gives California courts a precedent to cite if they choose to take similar action against Santa Ysabel for PrivateTable. Now, the state could follow in Idaho’s footsteps and file an injunction against the site without going through the National Indian Gaming Commission. That could immediately put PrivateTable out of business until the issue was settled in the courts.

It remains to be seen how the state will respond to Santa Ysabel opening up its site for real money games. Tribal officials hoped to have the site ready to accept deposits last week, but later said that the launch would be delayed.