In California, a federal judge has decreed that the Iipay Nation Of Santa Ysabel violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 by attempting to launch a real-money online bingo site two years ago.
Anthony Battaglia from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California made the ruling as part of a combined action brought by the federal government and the state of California while issuing a permanent injunction against the San Diego County tribe and its planned domain at DesertRoseBingo.com.
In his 34-page decision, Battaglia ordered the federally-recognized tribe, which had operated the 37,000 sq ft Santa Ysabel Resort And Casino some 39 miles northeast of Escondido until closing the property in 2014, to immediately cease offering or conducting gambling over the Internet and to stop accepting related payments from any player located outside of tribal lands.
Passed under the presidency of George W Bush, UIGEA essentially made it illegal for banks and payment processors to accept deposits and withdrawals related to online betting from players located inside of the United States. But, the Iipay Nation Of Santa Ysabel had argued that its venture would have been exempt under the provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which is a federal law ratified in 1988 that allows sovereign tribes to generate revenues from casinos.
“It is beyond dispute that IGRA applies to only that which is conducted on Indian lands,” wrote Battaglia in his ruling. “But what of gaming that derives from servers located on Indian lands and utilizes the Internet to reach beyond the borders of Indian country to patrons physically located within states where gambling is illegal? This is precisely the issue presented by this case.”
The Iipay Nation Of Santa Ysabel launched DesertRoseBingo.com in November of 2014 and soon announced plans to follow this with a poker equivalent at PrivateTable.com but the online bingo site was immediately handcuffed by a temporary restraining order.
Despite being ordered to immediately cease its online gambling operations, the Iipay Nation Of Santa Ysabel did manage to score a minor victory when Battaglia dismissed California’s claim that the tribe had breached its gambling compact. As part of the San Diego ruling, the judge ruled that the online bingo site would have been a Class II enterprise as opposed to a Class III venture and, thus, legal under the provisions of IGRA.