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The Iipay tribe of Santa Ysabel, California have come under a lot of scrutiny in the past week or so following the launch of the first online poker room exclusive to residents of California.

Despite the large debates surrounding the launch of, the site has been backed by several leading legal gambling authorities who believe that the site is operating completely within state law. Comments from attorney Martin Owens suggest that the site has done nothing to breach gambling laws and marks a step forward into bringing in some regulated gambling practices across the state.

California has long been targeted as a key state for the online poker industry, but efforts have long been hampered by many Native American casinos that have been reluctant to accept it as part of the gambling industry. However, the arrival of has marked a significant shift towards embracing online poker, with Owens highlighting that there is nothing wrong with the Santa Ysabel nation’s new venture.

The issues were swept aside by Owens, who made a statement declaring that “If an Indian tribe has land of its own and wants to offer Class 2 gambling, they don’t have to consult state law at all.” A Class 2 license allows native tribes to operate basic gambling services such as poker on their lands and the Santa Ysabel nation currently holds a Class 3 license, giving them full rights to operate banked gaming services.

So if the tribes are fully qualified to host services such as online poker, why has the launch of caused so much discussion across California? Well, it seems that the answer could come down to competition and money, with many different casinos and operators all trying to get a foothold in a potentially lucrative area.

After all, there are at least 110 different Native American tribes who hold federal gambling licenses while there are about 90 businesses across the state that rely on the industry for much of their income. Owens believes that the fierce nature of this competition has led to businesses attempting to undermine any opposition in any way possible to minimise the effect on their overall profits.

“There are some really deep-seated rivalries,” Owens said. “There are too many people whose main interest is making sure that someone else doesn’t get a chance.”

With that in mind, it’s not too surprising to see other competitors questioning the legality of new sites such as However, the furor isn’t going to be enough to stop groups such as the Santa Ysabel Nation from trying new methods to crack such a lucrative industry, especially if they conform to all local laws and legislations.


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