Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes File Lawsuit

Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes Lawsuit - PokerTribes Poker Site

The Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes shut down the website, but the Iowa Tribe plans to launch

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit this week claiming that fraudulent gaming deals, including an ill-fated online poker site, cost their tribe members $13 million. The website involved in the lawsuit was called

Eddie Hamilton, governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, filed the lawsuit against Florida businessman Fred “Prince Fred” Khalilian, along with a long list of other defendants. Most of the defendants in the case are Khalilian’s business partners in the Florida-based company, Universal Entertainment Group — not to be confused with Kazuo Okada’s Japanese gaming group, Universal Entertainment.

The lawsuit also names Universal Entertainment Group partners Tatiana Vlasenko and Isaias Almiras. Former Cheyenne and Arapaho Governor Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell is named among the defendants. So is Barbara Paukei and Thomas Fox, who managed various Cheyenne and Arapaho’s casinos under the regime of Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell.

Grellner: “Merely a Publicity Stunt”

Richard Grellner, the tribal lawyer who negotiated the deal, is named as a defendant, too. In an email to business reporter Brianna Bailey of The Oklahoman, Grellner said that the lawsuit is “merely a publicity stunt”.

Grellner’s stance is similar to several other defendants in the Pokertribes lawsuit. Several claim the suit is designed to help Eddie Hamilton’s political career, though Hamilton claims he has worked with federal regulators and law enforcement officials to investigate the case and they back his version of events.

$9.45 Million Spent on

The suit claims that Khalilian and Universal cheated the tribes out of $9.45 million from the gambling website alone. Despite selling PokerTribes to the group, the website was never “fully functional“.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes‘ lawsuit argues that Fred Khalilian not only failed to deliver the product they paid over $9 million to launch, but Khalilian never had the right to sell the poker sites’ software to them in the first place.

A former Khalilian business partner successfully sued in a Georgia court to win back control of the software, though a Georgia appellate court subsequently overturned the judgment in Khalilian’s favor.

Fred Khalilian: Politically Motivated Lawsuit

In interviews with The Oklahoman newspaper, Fred Khalilian and several associates claim the lawsuit is politically motivated. They claim Eddie Hamilton is up for reelection next year and he has several challengers, so he is hoping the publicly from the lawsuit gives him support and political cover for mistakes of the past.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes shut down the website in 2014. Since then, Khalilian has partnered with another Oklahoma gaming authority, the Iowa Tribe, on a website called Because the site’s domain name is only one letter off from the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe’s old site, the name is part of the lawsuit.

2017 Website Launch

The Iowa Tribe claimed on September 21 it received licensing from the Isle of Man’s gambling regulator, the IOM Gambling Supervision Commission, to launch as an international gaming venture sometime this fall.

Iowa Tribe Chairman Bobby Walkup said in a September press release of the licensing process, “The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma is proud to be the first Native American tribe to secure an international online gaming license. The process has taken longer than we may have envisioned when we began this journey, but, because we are a Native American tribe and held to higher gaming legal and regulatory standards, we had to ensure that we met all these standards.”

In a potentially landmark decision, the Iowa Tribe won the right to offer real money poker from their Oklahoma reservation to non-American residents from an arbitrator in November 2015. The arbitrator said it was legal under the tribe’s gaming compact with the State of Oklahoma to accept international players to their online card room, because the Iowa reservation is considered sovereign territory. A federal district court in Oklahoma City certified that decision in April 2016.

Fred Khalilian Calls Hamilton a “Sore Loser”

Because of the poker licensing by the Isle of Man, an internationally known gaming regulator which oversees some of the biggest names in online poker, Fred Khalilian told the Oklahoman that Eddie Hamilton is simply bitter at the success of Khalilian’s subsequent business venture.

Khalilian said, “Eddie Hamilton is a sore loser — that’s what he is. The Iowa Tribe has gone further than the Cheyenne and Arapaho ever did and Hamilton has egg on his face now.”

Eddie Hamilton: Working to Bring Indictment

For his part, Eddie Hamilton said regulators and law enforcement officials agree with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Hamilton said that he hopes to eventually work with authorities to bring indictments against those involved.

Hamilton said that the lawsuit came after a long investigation into the deal. He added, “We continue to aggressively work with federal regulators and law enforcement authorities to bring about the indictment of those who have taken advantage of our tribes and misused our tribes’ gaming revenues.”

“We are appreciative of the cooperation and interest shared by those federal authorities and are proud of the strong partnership we have developed — particularly with our federal regulatory partners.”

Brian Foster Said Hamilton Closed Site Too Soon

Brian Foster, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes’ former head of gaming operations, agrees with Khalilian. Foster, who is also named in the lawsuit, said the business model was sound, but the tribes pulled out of the investment too soon. Foster said that the tribes should have shown faith in its original business investment.

Saying that the website was a chance to significantly increase the tribe’s revenues, Foster added, “I believe it’s definitely politically motivated. It’s unfortunate they didn’t stick with it. They would have done very well.”

Foster said of his role in building PokerTribes, “My position was to create business for the tribes and this was obviously a technological advancement.”