Tuesday, October 2, 2012

At Long last, Tribal I-Gaming is On! (Well, Sort Of…)

Over the past several years, a major topic of discussion at virtually every gaming conference in the United States has centered on one statement: “The question is not whether we will have internet gaming but when.”

The “when” seems to be now.

The breakthrough occurred recently in Southern Arizona with the introduction of i-gaming at the Pascua Yaqui’s Casino del Sol website. The available i-gaming includes poker, slots, blackjack and roulette, and it is offered to individuals visiting the Pascua Yaqui’s brick-and-mortar casino in Tucson. While it is illegal under both state and federal law to conduct i-gaming for cash, the Pascua Yaqui casino is operating lawfully by giving “virtual cash” to its i-gaming players who then can pursue “free” internet gaming. There are no cash prizes.

The core ingredient to the Pascua Yaqui i-gaming is the Double-Down Casino system developed and currently being offered to casinos at no cost by International Gaming Technology. The casinos can put Double Down on their web sites for non-cash play. There are no wagers, but there is money involved, both in theory and fact. Players who sign up get $1 million in “virtual chips” at no cost and can spend it in the virtual casino. However, they can spend that freebie in no time at all, because the Pascua Yaqui have imposed a $100 bet for a single line on a slot machine, and the lowest buy-in at a poker table is $250. Moreover, they offer what is being called a “black tie” table, and the bets start at an eye-popping $200,000.

The Pascua Yaqui are banking on the notion that those actually playing the internet games will like them, despite the fact that there are no real prizes at the end of the day. However, there definitely will be prizes at some time in the future, and Casino del Sol is hoping to develop a cadre of loyal customers who will spend real money on the tribal i-gaming in anticipation of winning real money.

So, tribal i-gaming is sort of here today. But tomorrow is coming, and that will be the day when i-gaming is for real money instead of virtual chips. To learn more, read the full article in the latest edition of Gaming Legal News.