San Diego tribe mulls appeal against online bingo decision

News on 29 Dec 2016

Following a December 12 injunction by a federal court against its Desert Rose online bingo operations (see previous  report) the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel tribe in San Diego is currently mulling an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal against Judge Anthony Battaglia’s ruling that by accepting bingo bets from punters outside the tribe’s lands, it violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

The tribe is reportedly taking into consideration another finding by Judge Battaglia in a companion law suit in which the state claimed that Desert Rose Bingo also contravened a tribal-state regulatory agreement.

The state lost that one when Judge Battaglia found that as a Class II game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) the state has no authority over online bingo.

This week the tribe focused on that second and unsuccessful state legal action, noting that online poker is also a Class II game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and that could create an opportunity for both Desert Rose and its Private Table online poker product if a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal action against Judge Battaglia’s UIGEA ruling is successful.

Interviewed by Online Poker Report this week, the tribe’s chairman, Dave Vialpando, said that the legal issues vis-a-vis online poker and bingo are similar.

“With a favourable ruling from the 9th Circuit we will not only be able to launch DRB but Private Table,” he opined. “We would definitely launch our bingo and dust off our poker and decide whether it’s good business sense to launch. We would not see any legal barriers.”

OPR points out that such a development could have wider implications in California, where up to 16 tribes have for the last decade been debating intrastate online poker legalisation, so far unsuccessfully due to differing perspectives and needs.

Tribes are allowed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to operate Class II gambling outside of state oversight, so if the Battaglia UIGEA ruling is overturned on appeal, new horizons could be opening for the tribe.

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