Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’

Oklahoma Tribe Pushes Back Launch of Real Money Online Poker

 Oklahoma Tribe Pushes Back Launch of Real Money Online Poker

The real money portion of, a legal online poker site launched by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, has been delayed. The anticipated launch date for what is supposed to be the first licensed international online poker room based in the U.S. was yesterday, but according to a press release, it has been pushed back as the Tribe “continue(s) to coordinate with foreign governments on the worldwide launch.”

In September 2015, the Iowa Tribe, along with its poker client developer, Universal Entertainment Group (UEG), was dead-set on launching a real money online poker site, but the state of Oklahoma’s Gambling Compliance Unit believed such a venture was illegal. The case went to an independent arbitrator, Charles Chapel, who, to the surprise of many, ruled in favor of the Iowas.

“The use of the Internet,” Chapel said, “is merely using technology to play covered games as a way to increase tribal revenues.  It does not extend or restrict the scope of the games and does not amend the compact in any way. The compact and all its terms shall remain in force.”

Both the state and the federal government abided by Chapel’s decision, so the Iowa Tribe and UEG went forward with their plans.

Earlier this year, launched play money gambling. This was not a brand new thing for UEG, as it had previously with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes on a gaming website called – get this – That fell apart, though, as the Tribes eventually called it quits. Now the site, for the most part, is back minus the “s” and with a new tribal partner.

In Monday’s press release, the Iowa Tribe said that it and UEG “are working to finalize the international country by country gaming licensees and international merchant processing banking. Banking partners will include Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and more, plus our European banking partners.”

“We have completed each phase thoroughly and precisely. The final phase is the most important for a successful launch with the real money play, which is why we are rescheduling our launch date,” said the Iowa Tribe’s Chairman Bobby Walkup in the press release.

But a successful launch, whenever it may be, is likely to be a problem. UEG has estimated that the site’s online poker room could generate as much as $ 132 million in revenues by 2018, but it would be a miracle if that actually happened. Real money play will be open to players outside of Oklahoma in jurisdictions where such online gambling is currently legal. In the United States, there are only three states – Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada – where online gambling is explicitly legal and it is only intrastate online poker that is legal in those states. Only Nevada and Delaware have an interstate agreement and that is only with each other, not other states. Thus, nobody in the U.S. could play on

That leaves international players, of which there are many. Realistically, though, who from other countries would want to venture onto the site when there are already so many other established options out there, such as PokerStars, 888poker, the iPoker Network, and more? There is just no reason for anyone to try out the site.

In the meantime, is going to push back its real money launch date so it can make sure all of its ducks are in a row. But it probably won’t matter.

Poker News Daily

Tournament Season Resumes in Florida, Oklahoma

 Tournament Season Resumes in Florida, Oklahoma

After a few weeks off with the conclusion of the 2016 World Series of Poker – that is, everything but the “November Nine” – the tournament poker world is swinging back into gear as the month of July comes to a close. One tournament in Florida has become the de facto kickoff to the second half of the tournament season while a second event in Oklahoma draws a strong contingent of players competing for a major tournament circuit title.

In Florida, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, has opened up the doors on their 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. Now in its fourth year, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open has hosted a series of events that bring the players back after a little break from the WSOP with what can only be called a “major” Main Event. Although preliminary events for the SHRPO have begun already, everyone’s eyes are on this year’s Main Event.

The path to becoming the “big event” to bring everyone back to the tables after the WSOP has been a tricky one for the SHRPO Main Event and the officials of the Seminole Tribe in Florida. In its first year in 2013, the buy in was $ 5000 and featured unlimited rebuys for the three Day Ones that constituted the opening action. That tournament would crush the $ 10 million guarantee, creating a prize pool of $ 11,920,000, and Blair Hinkle would go on to take the inaugural championship and the $ 1,745,245 first place payday.

In 2014, the Seminoles tried to catch lightning in a botte again and came up a bit short. Setting the same guaranteed prize pool as 2013, “only” 1499 entries were received by the close of registration, setting the Seminoles in the precarious situation of being slightly more than $ 2.5 million under the guarantee from simply player entries. To their credit, the Seminoles ate the $ 2.5 million shortfall and paid the $ 10 million guaranteed prize pool, with Dan Colman defeating Mike Leah to take the championship and its $ 1,466,710 windfall.

After coming up short, the Seminoles made some changes to the 2015 tournament. Officials reduced the guaranteed prize pool to $ 5 million and made the tournament a traditional freeze out event rather than a reentry free-for-all. Colman was back to defend his title but he would come up short in third place after falling at the hands of Brian Phillis. Phillis would enter heads up play against Omar Zazay as a massive chip leader but, after grinding it out for more than 100 hands, Zazay would emerge as the champion and the $ 1 million winner.

This year’s event will feature the same format as last year, with the $ 5 million guarantee, the buy in and the freeze out format all staying the same. What officials with the Seminole Tribe hope is that more than the 907 runners that came to the line last year will show up for 2016. After having to pay slightly less than $ 500,000 to cover the guarantee from 2015 (and the big shortfall from 2014), the SHRPO Main Event is hoping to revert to its inaugural success.

Almost 1500 miles away from Florida, the World Poker Tour has already kicked back into its Season XIV schedule with a stop in Oklahoma. The WPT Choctaw is into its Day 1B action in its $ 3500 Main Event and the players are definitely showing for the tournament. The $ 3 million guaranteed prize pool has already been dwarfed by the 989 entries that have currently been received (unlimited entries are allowed in the tournament and registration does not close until the start of Day 2 on Sunday) and, if the numbers from 2015 are achieved, a prize pool of more than $ 4.1 million will be created. Players such as Phil Hellmuth, Darren Elias, Tom Marchese, Cate Hall, Ari Engel and Faraz Jaka have been spotted in the tournament room for Day 1B of action in the tournament, with everyone looking to be the person to capture this latest championship on the WPT circuit.

This doesn’t even touch the other major tour and its upcoming season. The European Poker Tour is still more than two weeks away from the kickoff of their Season 13 schedule in Barcelona, Spain on August 16. With both a High Roller (€10,000) and Super High Roller (€50,000) on the schedule, the Main Event (a €5000 tournament) may seem to be an afterthought, but the players will certainly flock to the Mediterranean coast for all the festivities at the Casino Barcelona.

The players have gotten their rest and are now ready to make the charge to the end of 2016. Many Player of the Year races can be affected by the results in the second half of the calendar year, which makes these and other tournaments incredibly important. For now, however, we can welcome poker back into action as the world’s best players (and some amateurs making their name) leap into the fray once again.

Poker News Daily

Oklahoma Indian Tribe Given Go-Ahead for International Online Poker Operations

 Oklahoma Indian Tribe Given Go Ahead for International Online Poker Operations

As many states still struggle with the idea of regulating online gaming and/or poker within their borders, an Oklahoma Indian tribe could be moving forward with plans to open up the first international online poker room within the borders of the United States.

The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma has received final clearance from the federal government to launch an online poker site that, in essence, will be able to step into the market that is currently being worked by such sites as PokerStars, 888 Poker and partypoker on an international basis. The U. S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma’s Judge David L. Russell stated during hearings that there were “no genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment in the tribe’s favor.” The Iowa Tribe, a small band that consists of only about 800 members, is headquartered in Perkins, OK, and their tribal jurisdiction extends across Lincoln, Logan, Oklahoma and Payne Counties inside the state.

The journey to reach this point has been an arduous one for the Iowa Tribe. In September 2015, the tribe announced that they were going to move forward with opening an online poker site per their agreement with the state of Oklahoma and the state’s Gaming Compliance Unit, which oversees all gaming within the state. The GCU believed that the Iowa Tribe’s move into online gaming violated the state’s gaming laws and objected on those grounds, forcing an arbiter to take a look at the case.

That arbiter, Charles Chapel, rendered his decision in December that “usage of the Internet is merely using technology to play covered games as a way to increase tribal revenues. It does not extend or restrict the scope of the games and does not amend the compact in any way.” In essence, Chapel stated that the Iowa Tribe’s online poker room was a simple extension of their operations and not a “new game” that needed new regulation. Surprisingly, the state accepted the arbiter’ ruling and, perhaps even more surprising, the federal government signed off on the deal also.

Now the Iowa Tribe is free to work their deal with Universal Entertainment Group, who has been down this road before with tribes inside Oklahoma trying to start online gaming ventures. In December 2015,’s Brianna Bailey stated that Universal Entertainment Group had been involved in online gaming in the Sooner State since 2014, when they worked with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in a site called (the new site with the Iowa Tribe with be called – note the dropping of the “s” from the website). After putting upwards of $ 10 million into the efforts, those two tribes backed out of the deal with Universal and the company has been searching for a new dance partner since.

Why is this important for Universal and the Iowa Tribe? Simply put, the financials. Bailey says that Universal estimates that a fully matured international online poker operation from the tribal lands could generate as much as $ 132 million in revenues by 2018. Add in the potential for teaming with other tribes in the state of Oklahoma – something that Iowa tribal chairman Bobby Walkup isn’t against, according to Bailey – and the potential exists for even more revenues for the operation.

With all the legal actions out of the way, the only question now is when the Iowa Tribe and Universal will get down to action. If all goes as planned, will be open sometime before the end of 2016 and it will be a full service online casino, not just an online poker operation. Then will come the question of whether the international community – and just how many U. S. players – will or can come calling on the site as to how successful it will be.

Poker News Daily

Oklahoma Indian Tribe Earns Legal Right to Operate Online Poker Site

 Oklahoma Indian Tribe Earns Legal Right to Operate Online Poker Site

The battle regarding the regulation of online poker in the United States has grinded to a halt. Since three states passed laws regulating the industry in 2013, there has been little to no action since then towards more states joining in the party (2016? Let’s talk that over tomorrow…). Now a small Indian tribe in the middle of the country seems to have done something that state legislatures have been unwilling to do since 2013.

After a decision in U. S. District Court in Oklahoma City, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma has won the right to be able to offer online poker to customers on an international basis. The Iowa Tribe is looking to have their website,, up and running in early 2016 with all the amenities that online poker fans have previously enjoyed (full casino gaming would come at a later date). Perhaps the biggest caveat of all is that it will be an international system, something that might draw the crowds initially.

According’s Brianna Bailey, the Iowa Tribe received a ruling from an arbiter that an online poker operation run from the tribal lands was not a violation of either federal or state law. In fact, Bailey reports, the freedom to offer online gaming and poker was covered by the Oklahoma Tribal-State Gaming Compact. The arbiter’s decision wasn’t binding until the U. S. District Court in charge of that area of the U. S. approved, with that decision coming down last week.

The Iowa Tribe has teamed with Universal Entertainment Group to provide the software for the proposed site, which apparently has been in the works for some time. “(We) could be launched within a matter of weeks,” Isaias Almira, the manager of UEG, said to Bailey. “I and our entire team have been working on this for many years.”

That may be a bit of an understatement. According to Bailey, UEG has been courting an Oklahoma Indian tribe to partner with for internet gaming. Prior to this agreement with the Iowa Tribe, UEG had teamed with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma for another venture,, believing that an Indian operation could generate as much as $ 132 million by 2018 from an online gaming site. After a change in tribal leadership (and some legal difficulties on the federal front), those tribes dropped out of the deal with UEG in 2014.

Where there may be some disagreement is in how many customers (and where they are) that might be able to reach. While areas of the United States that don’t have any online gaming regulations wouldn’t be able to participate, Almira says that players in the three states that have been able to pass regulation – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – would be able to partake of the product as well as the international poker community. The problem with this is that those three states have essentially made operating an online gaming operation within their borders that isn’t licensed by their regulators illegal. Additionally, international players would be able to play on but, with already legal options such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, 888 and others out there, how would break into the game?

What might be the best sign in this decision is that, according to the Iowa Tribe’s tribal chairman Bobby Walkup, it isn’t a decision that was set aside for just the Iowa Tribe alone. “The arbitrator’s decision applies to all tribes in the state of Oklahoma,” Walkup is quoted by Bailey as saying in a statement following the announcement of the legal decision. “Every tribe has the same opportunity as the Iowa Tribe to engage in internet gaming consistent with the arbitrator’s decision.”

The road may be opened for the Iowa Tribe to open their online gaming and poker operation, but there are some hoops left to jump through. Much like the previous operations by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, the federal government may step in at the last minute and override the District Court decision at a higher level, forcing the small tribe (800 members) to spend a great deal of capital on legal fees if they want to pursue the issue. Still, it is a good sign to end 2015 with another potential outlet for online gaming and poker in the United States.

Poker News Daily