California Tribe Continue to be Disappointed with Online Gaming Efforts

Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel

Iipay Nation of Santa YsabelThe Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel lose yet another court battle in their efforts to offer online poker and bingo games.

California tribe the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel have been trying for several years to win a battle in court to be able to offer online bingo and poker gaming. The tribe launched an online bingo site known as Desert Rose in November 2014 as well as talking about plans for an online poker site that never came to be. Just last week, the tribe lost yet another court battle as the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided to uphold a judgement by a district court that favored California, leaving the tribe with little room to work on their online gaming goals.

Argument by Tribe Not Working

The tribe has tried again and again to use their argument to be able to provide insight into why they feel that they should be able to provide online bingo and poker gaming. Gambling laws in California are quite gray and in the case involving the tribe, the issue is particularly confusing. Online gambling laws, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act plus state and federal laws must be considered when reviewing the tribe’s efforts to offer online gaming.

In 2014, when the online bingo site was launched, the tribe argued that tribes are considered sovereign nations in the US and inter-tribal gaming over the internet has been legal for many years. The tribe also pointed out that Class II gaming, like poker, is regulated by tribes in the state since 1999. Without a specific state prohibition in place on the gambling activity, as is in California, the tribe is free to offer this activity as long as they regulate the gaming activity based on the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Courts Disagree

So far, the tribe has yet to find a court that agrees with them. The latest ruling was handed down by the Ninth Circuit Judge Carlos T. Bea. In this opinion, the judge stated that the panel held that the tribe’s operation of the Desert Rose Casino was in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The panel also said that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act protected the gaming activity that was conducted on tribal lands but the patron’s act of placing a wager on a game at the casino while located in California was in violation of the UIGEA and is not under the protection of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

After further deliberations, the panel determined that even if the gaming activity connected to the casino took place on tribal lands, the placing of wagers or bets online based on the patrons act while the jurisdiction of gaming was illegal made the decision to accept payments associated with said wagers by the tribe was also in violation of the UIGEA.

Because of the violations to the UIGEA according to the court, the tribe saw the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruling affirmed by the district court judge. The summary judgement was granted to the Government, in this case in favor of the state of California.

One question was left unanswered in the case, whether or not the online casino would be in violation of the UIGEA if they accepted bets from individuals located in areas where online games are legal, such as Delaware or New Jersey. This could give the tribe an opening to continue their pursuits in the online gambling industry.

Posted in: iGaming Regulatory & Industry