The Santa Ysabel Tribe in California have become a little tired of waiting for any online poker bill to pass in California and are pressing ahead with a real money offering. Under the name of Privatetable.com the San Diego based tribe have announced that real money Texas Hold’em and more, are coming soon, and will be available to all California residents. It’s not known exactly when the real money action will begin, however play money is now available, but the legality of the operation leaves a huge question mark.
As many online poker players know, the legality of online poker is a gray area and there is no actual law against playing online poker in the US, however that, at present is provided by offshore companies such as Bovada Poker who are regulated outside of the US, while the Santa Ysabel offering will be based in California, raising many questions. The Santa Ysabel Tribe state that tribes are considered to be sovereign nations in the US, and that gaming using the internet has been legal for many years. They also state that due to the fact there is no law that prohibits online poker in California , they are free to engage in this activity. Furthermore, they state that in online gaming, the actual ‘wager’ takes place at the point of the server, which in this case, while that is in California, the game servers are located within the borders of their territory.
So what happens now? There will no doubt be plenty of raised eyebrows, especially due to the fact that a portion of the Santa Ysabel operation will be hosted by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, an establishment with many connections to offshore gaming, and many questions of legality will be asked. This may even force an online poker bill through in California although it may also go in the other direction and spark up a debate as to whether or not the Indian tribes even need that anymore. The bigger issue may be that the extent of sovereignty of the tribes may be called into question...whatever happens, the next few weeks should be very interesting.