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Indian Tribal Group Launches Online Poker in California

Now California residents can enjoy gambling at their very own private virtual poker table, quite literally. The Santa Ysabel Iipay Nation of American Indians in the Golden State just this week launched the Private Table poker site in California. Currently, The Golden State is pushing to legalize real money California online poker and possibly other forms of gambling in the state. The Iipay Nation Indians have announced they will be offering real money poker games through the site soon. Since state law does not yet allow for real money wagering while playing poker online, this is a big move by that tribal group.

Iipay Nation Makes Online Poker History, Claims Sovereign Rights

Historically, the Private Table site opening marks the first occasion where a US Indian tribe has claimed that its sovereign rights free it from state gambling law. This means that if this move goes unchallenged by legislators in California, look for many more indigenous groups in that state to begin online gambling offerings. With over 100 federally recognized tribes, California claims by far the largest Native American population in the US. The tribes are also the most distinct of any state, with the vastly different cultures and attitudes keeping the most powerful and influential tribal groups from coming to some agreement on legalized Internet poker in the past.

Iipay Nation is delivering the virtual poker experience through the Santa Ysabel Interactive business entity. In the press release accompanying the announcement, Iipay tribal leaders claimed that the group was simply “exerting its sovereign right under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to regulate and conduct Class II gaming from the tribe’s reservation.” IGRA labels poker and bingo as Class II gaming types. This would rule out the offering of online slots and casino games such as blackjack. Although Santa Ysabel has a Class III agreement with the state of California thanks to a Tribal-State Gaming Compact, the group at this time says there are no plans to deliver any type of Class III gaming through its newly opened website.

Santa Ysabel Move Has Nationwide US Online Gambling Implications

The news is huge for several reasons. There are more than 200 federally recognized Indian tribes in Alaska, and more than 550 in the United States in all. With more than 4.12 million Native Americans, the United States could have as much is 1.5% of its population offer some form of online gambling and/or poker if more Indian tribes follow the move by Santa Ysabel’s Iipay Nation. This would also give gambling proponents and pro-poker state legislators in California more fuel to fire their argument that statewide legislation is needed. There are currently two serious legal packages at the state government level which propose legalized online poker in California.

There is no doubt that other tribes throughout the United States will be paying close attention to what happens next, not to mention non-indigenous pro-poker parties. And for Santa Ysabel, there is almost no downside. The tribe closed its brick-and-mortar casino in February, so it does not have a physical operation which would be hurt if California lawmakers take action against them. Also, California has already been predicted for over a year as the next state to legalize Internet poker, so this is perfectly timed for that reason as well. The Private Table website will be powered by Winning Poker Network (WPN) software. Check back frequently for updates on this breaking story which will definitely have a large impact on legal United States gambling online.