Californian tribe vows to pursue online gaming despite court ruling

Californian tribe vows to pursue online gaming despite court ruling

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 Totally Gaming

Native American tribe, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, has vowed to continue to fight for the sovereign right to offer online gaming in California despite a court granting an order to temporarily halt its internet bingo service.
 
The tribe, in November, opted to launch its own real-money online bingo service in the form of DesertRoseBingo.com, despite internet gaming activities being illegal in the state.
 
The tribe argued that it was simply exercising its sovereign rights to offer Class II games defined in the Indian Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988. The tribe also said it would ensure that any online gaming options it offered would be regulated by its own tribal government and only take place on tribal lands.
 
Santa Ysabel stated that the Class II category covers games such as poker and bingo, whereas Class III games require an agreement between the tribe and the state in order to legally launch.
 
However, although Santa Ysabel upholds that the IGRA permits the offering of Class II games, legal confusion surrounds the act as it was drawn up prior to the advent of online gaming. The state believes that the IGRA is only intended to permit Class II gaming on tribal lands, with the offering of such activities to players outside of those lands violating state and federal law.
 
California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris last month filed for an injunction to block the tribe from offering real-money online gambling in the state, arguing that the launch violates state and federal law.
 
In response, the US District Court for the Southern District of California last week ruled in favour of the state and issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to ban the tribe from continuing its real-money online bingo offering in California.
 
Cruz Bustamante, a spokesman for Santa Ysabel Interactive, the tribe's economic development enterprise, said it is "deeply disappointed" with the court’s decision and said it could have "dangerous and significant pronouncements" for Indian Country.
 
"We are deeply disappointed by the federal court's decision to grant the State's TRO," Bustamante said. "This decision poses a significant threat to tribal jurisdiction over Class II gaming under the IGRA.

"It declares one-touch bingo and proxy play of games to be illegal and turns a blind eye to federal laws and precedent permitting technological advancements to aid in the play of Class II bingo. These are very dangerous and significant pronouncements for Indian Country.

"If the state ultimately prevails on these important tribal sovereignty issues, the ultimate losers will be small, economically disenfranchised tribes in California and throughout the country.

"We remain hopeful that as the case progresses the court will make every effort to understand the game and its technology, ultimately realising that the games being offered are by definition legal Class II games."

 

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