GAN, Chickasaw Partner for First Euro-Facing US Tribal Online Gambling Offering

There’s a bit of news to report on both the European and US-tribal online gambling scenes, where software platform provider GAN Plc. (otherwise known as the Game Account Network) has partnered with the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma in offering real-money gaming to select European jurisdictions. The online offering will attempt to leverage whatever brand equity that the Chickasaw’s “Winstar” brand might have in Europe.

The Chickasaw nation is by far Oklahoma’s largest tribal-gaming operator, owning some 20 casino venues scattered across the Sooner State. Those include the Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, OK, which is the state’s largest casino.

GAN revealed its partnership in the real-money Winstar offering — it’s available at www.winstar.com — as part of its 2017 year-end financial reports. According to that report:

In Europe, the identity of GAN’s client for the Overseas Internet Casino can now be confirmed as the major Native American US casino operator Chickasaw Nation. The Overseas Internet Casino launched for the Chickasaw Nation was delivered in H2 2017 and is now available in regulated European markets at www.WinStar.com.

It wasn’t that much of a reveal, truth be told. GAN had already announced its play-money offering with the Chickasaws last May, with a separate play-money site (or “simulated gaming,” as GAN prefers to categorize it), already up for some months at winstarworldcasino.com.

GAN’s done a whole bunch of these deals, by the way, signing up a handful of well-known US-based gambling entities as clients of GAN’s turnkey solution for online gaming, called the GameSTACK™ Internet Gaming System. Those other clients include Maryland Live! Casino, Parx Casino, San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Turning Stone Resort Casino, and several others. GAN also recently inked a deal with the soon-to-reopen Ocean Casino (formerly Revel) in Atlantic City. Already licensed as a third-party provider in New Jersey, GAN clearly has its sights set on a reopened US online market… whenever that me.

That’s going to take some time, of course, and for now, regarding the Winstar.com real-money offering, it’s only the non-firewalled portion of Europe that will have access. Flushdraw has been able to determine that the Alderney-licensed site is available for real-money play in the United Kingdom, German, the Netherlands and several other countries, but is not open to real-money action in France, Spain, Italy, or Portugal. Gamblers in those countries, as with those in the US, will find themselves automatically redirected from winstar.com to the play-money winstarworldcasino.com site. Both the real-money and play-money offerings provide online slots, video poker, blackjack, and roulette, but no actual online poker.

One question can not be answered fully as of yet, and that’s the sovereignty issue regarding the US’s tribal casinos that has added significant complications to the legalized online-gambling debate in the States. European-based casinos have very little reason to plunk down large deposits on a Winstar-branded site that has little or not brand recognition on the Euro side of the pond. That incentive diminishes even more if US tribes insist on sovereignty regarding consumer disputes, which means that aggrieved customers would have to file a complaint in an Oklahoma tribal court if any sch problems arose.

The fact that the Winstar.com site is licensed by Alderney might alleviate some of those concerns, but the specific legalese where the dispute language is found is temporarily unavailable on winstar.com; Flushdraw checked the site via proxy servers, and at the moment, it’s the only page on the site that doesn’t load.

Meanwhile, over at the play-money WinstarWorldCasino.com site, which admittedly may not even apply, the following appears:

Any claim relating to Chickasaw Nation Division of Commerce’s web site, or these terms and conditions shall be governed by the laws of the Chickasaw Nation without regard to any conflict of law provisions. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to waive the sovereign immunity of the Chickasaw Nation.

It will be interesting to see of a similar claim of sovereign-immunity invioability will appear in the fine print at winstar.com. One indicator that it might: The site itself is licensed by Alderney to an Oklahoma-based entity created last May, especially for this purpose, called Sovereign Interactive Gaming LLC.

In any event, the launching of the site shows that it’s not that hard for a US-based tribal nation to offer a site to international players, now that the legal backdrop is firm. The Chickasaws and a couple of the other GAN-partnered tribes likely piggy-backed on the legal decision that favored the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma a few years back, although the Chickasaws are the first to give it a go for real money.

They also saved themselves a ton of startup investment by doing it the easy way, partnering up and utilizing a ready-made turnkey solution such as that offered by GAN. Compare what GAN or other prominent turnkey providers charge compared to the combined $20 million or so that the Cheyenne and Arapahos and the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma sunk into the scammy Universal Entertainment Group “pokertribes.com” and “pokertribe.com” projects, and it’s clear which tribe took the proper approach… at least to bringing such a site to market. It’s not at all evident that Euro gamblers want to play on a US tribe’s online offering, when there are so many prominent, familiar Euro brands to choose from, but who knows? A few million more in marketing and promotion might make a tiny dent.

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