Native American Tribes Preparing for Legalized Online Gambling Websites

At present, Native American tribes own 460 land-based gaming establishments. Those casinos, card rooms, and bingo parlors are spread across 28 U.S. states, but none of them have legalized online gambling websites. Many tribes are hoping that changes in the near future.

The tribes could net hundreds of millions of dollars, if they could ever agree on a common policy. To do so, they might have to agree to lobby on behalf of regulated gaming in dozens of states–or else lobby for a federal gaming legislation. At present, many diverse elements are flirting with the notion of online gambling, but none have crossed the threshold of licensed and taxed US-facing online gambling websites.

Oklahoma Online Gambling

One small exception should be noted to the statement above. One Oklahoma tribe has a legal online casino, but it cannot accept U.S. players. The Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma signed an agreement with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin earlier this year which allows them to sign up foreign real money gamblers.

Pokertribes.com cannot target online gamblers inside the United States, though. The deal is unusual in the American iGaming landscape, but it might not always be so. The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes agreed to provide the state of Oklahoma with 10% of its revenues from online poker, while offering up 6% of their revenues from online bingo, lottery gaming, and other real money games.

Nobody is certain how much money the deal will generate. Like any gaming website, PokerTribes will need to attracts many signups to generate significant revenue. It’s a competitive market on the international online gambling scene, but you can bet the hundreds of other US tribes will be watching to see what happens.

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods

Other, more famous tribal gaming operators also have their own websites. Believe it or not, but Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun–the two world-famous Connecticut tribal casinos–have online casinos. The only different between those sites are the Oklahoma poker room is the fact Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun offer free gaming. No real money players exist on their sites.

The tribes operate their Internet casinos for a couple of reasons. One, the signups allow them to build a player database. After someone registers, the tribes can send them promotional material for the brick-and-mortar operations. Two, the online gaming portals are good promotional tools, reaching countless gaming-minded Americans and foreign players. Three, the websites will be well-established and “aged”, if Connecticut ever allow real money gambling within its confines.

Under the circumstances, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods could easily convert those freeplay sites into something like the PokerTribes site offered by the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Of course, it might not be long before such legal hoops won’t exist in the most pivotal state for online gambling: California.

California Legalized Online Gambling

2015 might be the year that California finally has legalized online gambling. In this case, the gaming is only going to entail online poker. California has the second-biggest land-based gaming industry in terms of locations, while it has the largest population of any U.S. state.

California has dozens of Native American tribes which operate their own tribal casinos. Those businesses will have the money to invest in top-notch online gaming software, if lawmakers can ever agree on a legal framework for iPoker.

California iPoker Bills Defeated

Since 2008, several politicians have written iPoker bills for California. In 2012, Senator Roderick Wright wrote a bill for the California Senate. In 2014, Lou Correa introduced his own bill to the California Senate. Around the same time, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduced similar legislation to the State Assembly.

All of those bills went down to defeat, or never received a vote. Now, Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced a bill to the California Assembly. He hopes new ideas will get both sides to compromise on a key passage in any such bill: it’s “bad actor” rules.

The main sticking point is the bad actor clauses, which seek to bar gaming operators which accepted US players after December 31, 2006. That’s when the UIGEA went into effect. Any gaming after that date is seen by many as illegal activity, and most of California’s tribal casinos want PokerStars banned from the state, due to its breaking the UIGEA. The Moronga and San Manuel Tribes have deals with PokerStars, if ever the world’s largest poker site is licensed in the state.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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