Tribe to launch gambling site
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma will move ahead with its plans to launch an international gambling website after a federal judge this week signed off on a decision that the gaming venture is legal. The Iowa Tribe plans next month to launch its website, pokertribe.com.
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma will move ahead with its plans to launch an international gambling website after a federal judge this week signed off on a decision that the gaming venture is legal.
The Iowa Tribe plans next month to launch its website, pokertribe.com, allowing players from other countries to play real-time casino games with real money.
The venture is backed by Fred Khalilian, who describes himself as an international business and marketing consultant.
Khalilian and his company, Universal Entertainment Group, have an exclusive license to operate the website, Khalilian said.
Khalilian acts as a consultant on the venture, he said. The servers for the gambling website will be maintained at the Iowa Tribe’s headquarters in Perkins, he said.
“The Iowa Tribe is launching the first government-launched poker site ever and that’s a big deal,” he said.
Khalilian said Universal is working with in-flight wireless Internet service providers to launch the website on commercial airline fights.
He estimates the venture could generate as much as $1 billion a year in new tax revenue for the state.
“It’s never been done before and we think the credibility of the tribe and the partnership with the tribe will give the players a lot of security,” he said.
The Iowa Tribe did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
In a statement issued in January, Iowa Tribe Chairman Bobby Walkup said he believes the new venture will create a lucrative revenue stream for the tribe, and perhaps other tribes.
“Finally, once our tribe had an opportunity to review all the facts, we were able to see this as positive opportunity for our tribe, including present and future generations of tribal members,” Walkup said in the statement.
“We also saw a possible new online marketing concept that would generate fresh revenue for our tribe and potentially for the other federally recognized tribes in the state and possibly across the nation.”
Khalilian has operated a number of colorful business ventures over the years. He once ran a now-closed nightclub called Club Paris in Orlando, Fla., that promised to include regular appearances by hotel heiress Paris Hilton.
In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission shut down another company operated by Khalilian, The Dolce Group Worldwide, for alleged unfair and deceptive business practices. The company ran a robocalling operation that peddled extended car warranties. Khalilian settled the civil suit with the Federal Trade Commission and has set up a website www.fredkhalilian.com to defend his reputation.
“In a civil court battle you have to evaluate your options and see what’s best for you, your time and finances,” he said in a statement on the website. “Just because you settle in a civil case doesn’t mean you admit to any wrongdoing.”
The Iowa Tribe went to court in January to seek certification that it could legally operate the pokertribe.com website.
An arbitrator ruled in November that the venture is not a violation of federal or state law and falls under the Oklahoma Tribal-State Gaming Compact.
The ruling could also allow other Oklahoma tribes to launch similar websites.