Iowa Tribe Receives Online Poker License And a Lawsuit9 months ago
In the arcane world of online gaming regulation very little comes as a surprise, but the recent decision by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission to grant a licence to the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma - allowing them to offer real money gambling to players in other countries from within the USA - is at the very least a curious one, involving $millions of dollars, lawsuits and some decidedly murky ‘players’.
Iowa tribe chairman Bobby Walkup said of the newly-granted licence for PokerTribe.com:
“The process has taken longer than we may have envisioned when we began this journey, but, because we are a Native American tribe and held to higher gaming legal and regulatory standards, we had to ensure that we met all these standards.”
However, just 3 years ago a much-anticipated launching of PokerTribes.com – a very similarly-spelled domain name registered to the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, also based in Oklahoma – fell through, with Reggie Wassana, speaker of the tribal legislature stating:
“A lot of money was paid and nothing was ever received. Nothing became of it. It was $9.4 million for a website basically — there was no realization of profits and no actual working internet gaming.”
The common threads in both gambling ventures? Miami-based Universal Entertainment Group, and Fred Khalilian, an ‘entrepreneur known as ‘Prince Fred’ who acts as a key consultant to Universal’, according to newspaper reports of a lawsuit which Governor Eddie Hamilton filed on behalf of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes this week in tribal court in Concho, Oklahoma.
"The transactions were marked by deceit, greed and utter disregard for the laws and economic well-being of the tribes," the lawsuit claims, naming not only UEG and Khalilian, but also various individuals connected to the failed venture, including Cheyenne and Arapaho Gov. Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell.
Fred Khalilian has a chequered and somewhat dubious history, once owning an Orlando nightclub with Paris Hilton and the Federal Trade Commission fining him more than $4 million this July for his part in a telemarketing scam.
Of the lawsuit, however, he said:
"Eddie Hamilton is a sore loser — that's what he is," claiming that, “The Iowa Tribe has gone further than the Cheyenne and Arapaho ever did and Hamilton has egg on his face now."
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