Wednesday November 26,2014 : TRIBAL GAMBLING GROUP RESPONDS TO CALIFORNIA CHARGES
Action of the AG "severely undermines the inherent sovereign rights of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel."
The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel has responded strongly to a lawsuit launched against it by the Attorney General for California, Kamala Harris, last week
The San Diego-based tribe’s recently launched the real-money Desert Rose online bingo enterprise, triggering the AG's application for a federal court restraining order.
The AG is also seeking a permanent injunction against the tribe's internet bingo operation, which it launched in partnership with gaming company Great Luck.
The operation violates both state and federal law, the AG claimed in court papers which cite the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It is also in breach of the compact the tribe has had with the state of California for the past 11 years.
In a probe of the online operation, enforcement agents claimed that they were able to deposit and play from outside the tribal lands, and it seems that the tribe has not bothered with geo-location or age verification technology.
In a response, Cruz Bustamante, a spokesman for Santa Ysabel Interactive, claimed Tuesday that the State of California’s lawsuit attempts to severely undermine the inherent sovereign rights of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and its Class II gaming rights under federal law.
“The complaint filed this week by the State of California against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel lacks both substance and merit and attacks tribal sovereignty," Bustamante wrote in a prepared statement.
"We look forward to having the opportunity to demonstrate the legality, regulatory veracity and consumer safety of the Tribe’s interactive Class II bingo enterprise.
“With this lawsuit, the State of California is attacking the sovereignty of all tribes," Bustamante avers.
"The suit is intent on obstructing the rights and economic vitality afforded to federally-recognized Indian tribes under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
"The State’s misguided attack completely ignores existing federal regulations and guidelines encompassed in the Cabazon Decision of the United States Supreme Court, which remains the law of the land. It is a thinly veiled attempt to weaken tribal governments as the State prepares to negotiate compacts with many of the California Tribes.
"This action by the State should be of great concern to all Tribes in California and elsewhere because it reflects a tactic that if successful would set a dangerous legal precedent that could be used in other jurisdictions to undermine and attack tribal sovereignty.”
Bustamante points out that Santa Ysabel Interactive and the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission have constructed a business model and regulatory structure that is completely transparent and compliant with all applicable NIGC regulations.
He claims that the tribe has invited various California state and federal officials to review operations on a government-to-government basis, but that to date no representative from the office of the California Governor has accepted the invitation to visit the reservation to discuss Santa Ysabel Interactive.