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Iipay Nation Progress Toward Online Poker Real-Money Launch

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel have modified their website in furtherance of holding true to recent promises that a real-money online poker launch is coming.

The changes include offerings of a first-time deposit bonus of $100; five daily freerolls that promote $10 iTunes and Google Play gift cards to winners; in-person, Visa and Bitcoin deposit options; and, as is quite standard throughout the online poker industry, distributing part of raked pots and tourney entry fees back to players through various rewards and promotions.

California players hoping that the tribe will offer rakeback deals can stop hoping, as the site’s FAQ section informs that “ does not support any kind of Rakeback.”

Of course, if rakeback were allowed it can only come into play if there are funds available to give back from a poker site that operates legally and in accordance with California and Indian gaming statutes. That is where a discrepancy lies, as the Iipay Nation continue to insist that online games emanating from tribal lands that are not house-banked are permitted, while state officials undoubtedly interpret current legislation quite differently.

Legal Battle Certain

That debate has already entered the courtroom following Santa Ysabel’s launch by proxy of real-money online bingo at last month. The Attorney General of California promptly filed legal papers to shut down that operation, which was met with cries that the state’s pleading “attacks tribal sovereignty” when the Iipay Nation filed a response to the lawsuit.

Should the real-money online poker launch of occur as promised — customer service continues to inform that it will — Santa Ysabel can expect yet another legal challenge from state officials. In the meantime, and despite the lack of a firm roll out date, preparations for a real-money ipoker launch are ongoing as is evident by the website modifications and inquiries I made to the 24/7 PrivateTable customer service chat.

California Online Poker Legislation

While the Iipay tribe appear to be moving forward with their online poker plans, so too are California lawmakers, some of whom were taken aback by the introduction of an ipoker bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto last week. Gatto’s AB 9 was the first online poker volley of California’s 2015 legislative session, but won’t be the last if Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer holds true to his word.

AB 9 excludes the horse racing industry and PokerStars …. sort of. A bit of confusion ensued among legal experts and some of the poker media who were seemingly at odds over language in the bill and whether AB 9 provides an opportunity for PokerStars to make a triumphant return to the U.S. by way of California. The coalition that includes PokerStars objected to the bill, interpreting AB 9 as being unfavorable to their collective efforts.

Licensing Issues

The PrivateTable website proclaims that licensing for online poker has been issued by the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission. That regulatory agency will oversee and safeguard both game integrity and player funds.

Whether that license is worth the paper it’s written on is another matter entirely. Legal minds adept at analyzing statutes will likely end up debating and sorting the technicalities of that issue, with a judge’s order perhaps providing the final say.

Santa Ysabel are seemingly ready to continue with their real-money Internet poker plans despite the likelihood of being embroiled in legal skirmishes related to both online bingo and online poker. There is a lot at stake in a California regulated online poker market — billions of dollars, and the Iipay tribe want to be included.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.