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California's Iipay Nation Defiant After Court Ruling on Bingo

California's Iipay Nation Defiant After Court Ruling on Bingo

California’s Iipay Nation in San Diego County is defiant after a federal court ordered it to shut down an online real-money bingo “casino,” thought to be the first such online Indian casino in the nation.

The tribe, based in Santa Ysabel, has promised that it will continue to fight the attempts by both state and federal governments to prevent it from offering real-money gaming on the internet. But now it must deal with the fact that the US District Court for the Southern District of California has issued an injunction to shut down the site.

The Iipay began operating DesertRoseBingo.com in November, although California has not yet legalized online gaming with real money. The court rejected its argument that it was exercising its sovereign right to offer Class II gaming, including bingo and poker without a gaming compact as outlined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Congress passed IGRA in 1988, before the advent of the internet gaming. The state attorney general Kamala Harris argued that IGRA envisioned gaming on tribal lands exclusively, and did not include the notion of “virtual” gaming. She asked for a temporary injunction to block the website until the legal issues could be settled in federal court.

The tribe’s spokesman Cruz Bustamante said the court decision could have “dangerous and significant pronouncements” for Indian sovereignty. He added, “This decision poses a significant threat to tribal jurisdiction over Class II gaming under the IGRA.”

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