California Tribe Insists Online Poker Launch is No Bluff

California Tribe Insists Online Poker Launch is No BluffA California tribe that has repeatedly announced its intentions to launch an online poker site in advance of legislative approval claims the roll out is coming.

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel have been offering free-play Internet poker at for several months and plan on making the transition to real-money. Announced launch dates have come and gone on at least two occasions, causing many in the poker community to question whether the small tribe may be bluffing in an attempt to be included in the sharing of revenue when an [geolink href=””]online poker bill in California[/geolink] is eventually passed.

Representatives from the Iipay Nation scoff at the notion that [geolink href=””]their impending launch[/geolink] is merely a power play, and a recent press release again stated that a real-money online poker launch is on the way. Barring unforeseen delays, the roll out is expected in a matter of days, most likely within the next week or two, said the tribe’s Chris Wrieden, Iipay’s Interactive Director of Marketing.

Some believe our promise to bring regulated cash poker games to California has all been a great big bluff, for any number of self-serving reasons, Wrieden added. I can tell you it hasn’t been, it just takes time to put all of the pieces together.

Those pieces began falling into place when the tribe launched online bingo earlier this week, becoming the first Golden State tribe to enter the territory of real-money online gambling. A partnership with Great Luck has allowed the tribe to offer Desert Rose Bingo under the category of Class II gaming.

There are many reasons why industry insiders believe the Iipay Nation may bluffing with online poker. Some of these include the fact that the tribe’s own land-based casino was forced to close due to bankruptcy, its payment processor at PrivateTable also went bankrupt with another processing company, and the site’s software is being employed by unregulated sites in the U.S.

But perhaps the main reason is that there remains no legislative approval to operate in California. The Santa Ysabel point to Class II gaming statutes in their argument, interpreting that law to mean that non house-banked games such as bingo and poker are permissible.

On a speculative note, with an online poker industry that is potentially worth billions of dollars, there is no way that a small tribe can pull off an online poker launch without [geolink href=””]facing a legal challenge[/geolink] from the rest of the state’s gaming interests. Should the Iipay Nation make good on their promise to launch real-money online poker, you can bet that injunctions will be filed in court to shut them down.

Nonetheless, the tribe reps continue to promote the launch, with Wrieden stating that the upcoming roll out will put our critic’s bluff theory to rest and when we accept our first online bet, we will be on our way to creating change for our industry.

What do you think? Is it a bluff or for real? Stay tuned, as the answer will likely be known shortly.

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Jacqueline Packett