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California Online Poker May Go Live Next Week

The Native American tribe, whose Reservation is approximately 20 miles northeast of San Diego near Lake Henshaw, already has a play money online poker site,, up and running, but feels strongly that it can legally offer real money poker without any change in the law of California. In a statement on the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission website, the tribe firmly states:

In offering online gaming through Santa Ysabel Interactive, the Tribe is exerting its sovereign right under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to regulate and conduct Class II gaming from the tribe’s reservation. Class II gaming, as defined by IGRA, includes poker and bingo, but does not include slot-based games or house-banked games, such as blackjack. House-banked games and slot machines are defined as Class III games, and can only be offered in a tribal casino upon agreement with the state through a Tribal-State Gaming Compact. Santa Ysabel has had such a compact with the state since 2005, but has no plans to offer Class III gaming through its interactive website.

The tribe launched its online gaming offering about a month ago, criticizing potential internet gaming legislation in the state as benefiting only the richest tribes. “The current proposed legislation excludes all but the wealthiest gaming tribes from engaging in state-regulated online gaming,” said Santa Ysabel Interactive spokesman Dave Vialpando in a statement in July. “Smaller or remotely located tribes, like Santa Ysabel, would not be able to meet the financial prerequisites for participation in online gaming as currently proposed, in spite of their years of experience conducting and regulating brick-and-mortar Class II and Class III gaming.”

He added:

Many tribes feel that the current proposed legislation gives the state too much regulatory authority over tribal online gaming, an authority which historically has been the sole purview of tribal gaming regulators due to the Class II status of the games involved. The proposed legislation discounts and marginalizes years of successful and experienced regulation of tribal gaming in California in favor of relatively inexperienced state gaming regulators.
The tribe had hopes to launch real-money poker around the time of that statement, but it has not happened yet. In an interview published Friday on, though, Vialpando said that they are targeting between August 26th and 28th to get it going.


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