California Tribe Claims iPoker Launch not a Bluff

5 years ago
California Tribe Claims iPoker Launch not a Bluff
05 Nov

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, a small California tribe that went bust operating a land-based casino, continue to insist that real-money online poker will be launched soon at

The tribe has twice announced a scheduled launch that would transition the current free-play offering into real-money action for players within California, only to postpone both those roll outs due to unforeseen delays. This has led to a number of poker media scribes and industry insiders to proclaim that the Iipay Nation is attempting a huge bluff in order to be included in any revenue sharing that may be part of an online poker bill.

Not so, said a tribe rep recently, shooting an arrow through the bluff theory that has picked up momentum and believers as time has marched on.

Some believe our promise to bring regulated cash poker games to California has all been a great big bluff, for any number of self-serving reasons," said the Iipay Nation's Director of Marketing, Chris Wrieden. "I can tell you it hasn't been, it just takes time to put all of the pieces together."

While those pieces are coming together, you can bet that the state's gaming interests that include many other larger, more powerful tribes, as well as racetracks and cardrooms, are ready to pull those pieces apart if the launch does eventually come into play. Billions of dollars are at stake in a potential California online poker regime, and the prospect of a small tribe getting a head start will not go off without a legal challenge.

The Santa Ysabel did launch online bingo in collaboration with Great Luck earlier this week. Desert Rose Bingo can be played by Californians who purchase bingo cards priced at $0.01 to $1 at The tribe cites Class II gaming statutes that allegedly permit games such as poker and bingo that are not house-banked as long as the gambling takes place on tribal land.

That's the way that Iipay Nation attorneys interpret the statute. Whether a judge will agree is another matter and will likely be determined should that promised ipoker launch occur.

Remember that over half a decade has passed while California lawmakers and the state's gaming interests have not been able to agree on suitable online poker legislation. The fact that a tiny tribe would be able to virtually ignore that process and launch online poker on their own and be legally able to do so seems ludicrous to many.

We are eager to offer poker to Californians in the coming days...most likely within the next week or two...barring any unanticipated setbacks," Wrieden added. "When we launch it will put our critic’s bluff theory to rest and when we accept our first online bet, we will be on our way to creating change for our industry."

Some believe that the Iipay Nation will be on their way to court hearings to defend their Class II gaming argument, as opposed to changing the industry. Then again, if Santa Ysabel's ultimate goal is to be part of any revenue sharing agreements and that does come to fruition due to their real-money online poker launch, then they will have changed the industry to some degree. Bingo!

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Charles is a Chicago native and long time poker player who dusted off his journalism degree and began writing about poker following the events of Black Friday in 2011. He has written for a number of leading poker websites, offering his insights and expertise on subjects ranging from online poker leg...Read more


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