FEDERAL JUDGE RULES AGAINST TRIBAL ONLINE GAMBLING
Desert Rose online bingo site impacted by decision.
A federal judge in southern California, Anthony Battaglia, has ruled that the San Diego-based tribal online gambling operator, Santa Ysabel Interactive, must immediately stop offering or conducting any gambling or game of chance through internet technologies, and suspend accepting payments relating to online gambling from anyone outside its designated tribal land.
The decision appears to conflict with that of an Oklahoma Court which placed no impediment on the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma from conducting an online poker operation from tribal lands providing it did not cater for US poker players.
In his 34-page judgement, Judge Battaglia said in effect that The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act trumps the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, observing:
“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.”
The judge ruled that the operator, an asset of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, is in violation of UIGEA as a result of its launch two years ago of the Desert Rose online bingo real-money operation from servers within the tribal land borders. The tribe also runs Private Table, an online poker room.
Following the launch of Desert Rose, California state and federal authorities challenged the action, filing lawsuits that accused the tribe of failing to prevent access by online punters using their services from outside the tribal lands and these cases, now merged were the subject of Judge Battaglia's ruling last week.
The tribe argued that IGRA exempted them from the provisions of the UIGEA.