Californian Tribe Served Federal Lawsuit Over Online Gambling SiteNovember 21, 2014 4:43 pm
On Tuesday, 18th November, the state of California brought a federal lawsuit against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel after it launched a real-money online bingo site at the beginning of the month. While the Tribe continues to maintain it is breaking no laws and is just exercising its sovereign rights, California’s Attorney General insists the Iipay Nation is violating a number of different laws, including the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.
The lawsuit has now been lodged at the US District Court for the Southern District of California, with a hearing expected to be presided over by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on December 4th. The case file also cites the UIGEA and the IGRA at least forty times, with an extract of the case statement, reading:
“This action seeks appropriate injunctive relief to prevent unlawful Internet gambling; Defendant Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, also known as Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueno Mission Indians (Tribe), has begun to offer a facsimile of bingo over the Internet to bettors, who are not located on the Tribe’s Indian lands. In addition to violating state and federal law, the Tribe’s conduct materially breaches the tribal-state class III gaming compact (Compact) between the Tribe. and the State.”
The last part of the statement comes as quite a surprise as according to the IGRA both bingo and poker are defined as Class II gaming, which Indian Tribes are permitted to license and regulate provided such gaming is allowed in the state. Conversely, Class III gaming, which includes slot machines, blackjack, craps, and roulette, is restricted unless a Gaming Compact has first been agreed with the State. Therefore, the Iipay Nation’s claim to be merely offering Class II games is now being challenged by the Californian state, which apparently believes bingo and poker’s online equivalents should instead be placed in the Class III category.
Finally, the state has declared the Santa Ysabel’s online bingo site, DesertRoseBingo.com, “an imminent threat to the public health, safety, and welfare” and in the absence of a temporarily restraining order warned of “far-reaching and immediate effects on million of Californians.”