The tribes, based in Concho and owners of the Lucky Star Casino, filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Interior to allow them to proceed with their launch of pokertribes.com, an Internet gaming site that will offer a number of casino games to players located outside of the United States. PokerTribes was shut down by the Department of the Interior last month on the basis that the state of Oklahoma, which signed a compact with the tribes, cannot offer a service to a market exclusively outside of the United States as it constituted an illegal tax on tribal gaming.
Founding of PokerTribes.com
The online gambling site was in the making for some time. After the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes signed a compact with the state of Oklahoma in April 2013, the site was prepared for launch. Its goal was to offer international casino players real-money games on desktop and mobile devices. The servers were based in the tribe’s sovereign land.
The site launched in the summer after free-play action began in April, though Oklahoma authorities initially shut down the site when it was offered to United States citizens. The compact with Oklahoma was then adjusted with the state set to receive four percent of the first $10 million in annual net revenue, then five percent of the next $10 million and six percent of any future amounts. The state would also take 10 percent of the monthly revenue from non-house-banked card games or games in which the casino had no stake in the outcome, such as poker.
Richard Grellner, an attorney for the site, claimed that the tribes spent $9.4 million to establish the site and ensure that the business adhered to all laws. In addition, the tribe claimed that the site could generate $132 million on an annual basis by 2018 if allowed to operate as planned. That number reflected just two percent of the global online gambling market.
US Government Shutters Sites
The pokertribes.com site is currently non-functional, per the United States Department of the Interior. Unsurprisingly, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes reacted with legal action, filing a federal lawsuit against Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, and Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. The tribes asserted that their agreement with Oklahoma permits them to operate the online gambling website on its sovereign land to players located outside of the United States. They are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
The action of the United States government to shut down the site wasn’t wholly unforeseen. Both the Cheyenne and Arapahoe made a public plea several months prior to the shutdown, saying that the Obama administration allowed the compact to stand and the site to proceed with launch.