A federal judge in California has ruled that the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, a California Indian tribe, violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) by offering online poker and bingo from its website.

The small band, which is based outside of San Diego, launched the Desert Rose bingo site back in 2014 and immediately attracted lots of attention from state and federal authorities who said it was a clear violation of gaming regulations. In fact, the two entities were in such agreement that they merged their cases against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel into one, which was heard in federal court.

Both state and federal authorities claimed that not only should the tribe not be offering online gambling at all, but also that they failed to properly protect their customers when they did, according to a report on Casino.org.

For their part, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel officials argued that federal gaming laws do not apply on Indian reservations, but U.S. Southern District of California Judge Anthony Battaglia fervently disagreed. He pointed out that the the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) only applies to gambling that takes place on Indian land, not on Indian servers.

In his ruling he knocked down the Tribe’s argument saying:

It is beyond dispute that IGRA applies to only that which is conducted on Indian lands. 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.

Judge Battaglia not only ordered the tribe to shut down its online gambling operations, but also to stop accepting payments of any kind from gamblers who are not on tribal lands.

As of this writing, the only American Indian tribe that is legally able to accept online wagers is the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, who only accept offshore wagers.


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