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Federal officials block Oklahoma Internet gaming website, tribe sues

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma want to offer online gaming through the website pokertribes.com to international players.
by Jennifer Palmer Modified: December 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: December 30, 2013
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The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes spent $9.4 million to set up the website, Grellner said. It has to comply with the state's stringent controls to ensure players are from outside the United States.

The tribe operates the Lucky Star Casino at Concho and at Clinton. According to the lawsuit, the tribe wanted to open additional casinos near major cities but has been denied land purchases by the U.S. Department of Interior, so it turned to Internet gaming and developed the Poker Tribes website to generate revenue.

Pokertribes.com began offering free play in June 2012 without restricting players to a geographical area, but the state objected. In April, an agreement was made between the tribe and the state to allow overseas gaming only.

Originally, the agreement was for the tribe to share 20 percent of its revenue with the state, but Washburn, the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, disapproved, court documents state. So the state and tribe rewrote its agreement to reflect the current profit-sharing arrangement.

Washburn again disapproved, stating that it “introduces an inappropriate basis for revenue sharing in a Compact. The State cannot control, nor can it offer, exclusive access to a market of patrons located entirely outside the United States and its territories.”

Calls and emails to Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior seeking comment were not immediately returned.

by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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It's pretty groundbreaking. In Oklahoma, we have the Native American culture we can sell to the world, and the state and the tribes can really benefit.”

Richard Grellner,
an attorney representing the tribe

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