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The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel’s recently-announced plans to launch PrivateTable.com, a real-money online poker site in California, elicited an array of reactions and a bevy of questions from poker players and media.
I recently spoke with David Chelette, General Manager of the Santa Ysabel Casino and President of PrivateTable.com, via email in an attempt to answer some of those questions and to clarify the path forward for Santa Ysabel’s unique online poker initiative.
As Chelette tells it, PrivateTable’s decision was driven by a variety of factors.
“First,” said Chelette, “we have an opportunity to speak to the poker world during a time when there is a heightened awareness and discussion taking place.”
Chelette made it clear that the momentum behind regulated online poker in Sacramento also played into Santa Ysabel’s decision.
“If you take a close look at the proposed bills you will see that they do not take into consideration tribes current right to offer and regulate class II gaming and virtually makes it impossible for most tribes to participate,” Chelette argued.
“That being said,” Chelette continued, “as California gets closer to the final draft of the proposed legislation we are hoping to have an opportunity to provide some input as to how it could better allow Santa Ysabel and other small to mid-level gaming Tribes a way to participate within a state-licensed online gaming structure.
According to Chelette, the “primary servers for PrivateTable.com are located within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, a Native American tribal reservation.”
PrivateTable is operated by Santa Ysabel Interactive and regulated by the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission. PrivateTable.com also displays an “Inter-jurisdictional Authorization” from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
“Secondary servers are located on the tribal reservation of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California,” added Chelette, who further noted that there is “a VPN connection between Santa Ysabel and Kahnawake.”
Some other regulated online gambling options, such as mobile sportsbetting in Nevada and Great Luck’s proposed bingo product, rely on consumer use of a VPN.
Chelette indicated that PrivateTable will “not require our players to establish a VPN connection to play like some of the class II online platforms that have been designed by other tribes.”
Players will be able to deposit with “some credit cards” using PrivateTable’s online payment system, said Chelette. Players will also be able to deposit “in person at the Smoke Shop that is located on the Santa Ysabel tribal reservation in San Diego County off of highway 79.”
According to Chelette, “Santa Ysabel’s interactive poker website was designed and implemented to be in compliance with current federal law and California state law.”
“If these laws change in any way or an online gaming bill successfully passes in California,” Chelette added, “we will certainly evaluate the change and determine our best path forward at that time.”