Federal judge grants restraining order against Santa Ysabel’s Desert Rose Bingo

Desert Rose Bingo unavailableJust a few short weeks after the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel opened their real money enterprise, Desert Rose Bingo, a federal judge has ordered that the tribe shut the operation down.

US District Judge Anthony Battaglia granted the state of California’s request for a temporary restraining order against Santa Ysabel’s new venture. The tribe had employed a complex technical workaround so that gamblers could bet on real money bingo games from anywhere inside the state.

Attorney General Kamala Harris filed for the injunction soon after the site went live, claiming that it was in violation of state and federal law. The DA argued that Desert Rose Bingo should be prohibited as it falls under Class III rules, rather than Class II, as the tribe had asserted.

“We are deeply disappointed by the federal court’s decision to grant the State’s TRO,” said Santa Ysabel spokeswoman Cruz Bustamante. “This decision poses a significant threat to tribal jurisdiction over Class II gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It declares one-touch bingo and proxy play of games to be illegal … These are very dangerous and significant pronouncements for Indian Country.”

Even though gamblers were allowed to bet real money on the site from anywhere in the state, the tribe believes that due to the “proxy” system it had in place, all bets were technically taking place on Indian land.

Desert Rose goes dark

The Desert Rose Bingo website currently displays a splash page which the tribe has used to further its argument against its detractors. “The District Court’s mistake in reliance on outdated case law and its misinterpretation of the construct of Santa Ysabel’s bingo games resulted in its misguided decision,” the page says. “This decision threatens the tribal sovereignty of all tribes, and sadly denies the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel the ability to provide vital services and opportunity for its Tribal membership.”

Online poker plans threatened

While the tribe hopes to resume operations in the “near future,” Judge Battaglia’s decision might just spell the end of Santa Ysabel’s reckless foray into unregulated Internet gambling.

The restraining order also seemingly puts the tribe’s online poker plans in jeopardy as well. The group made headlines after deciding to launch their own poker site, PrivateTable, after online poker legislation was scrapped earlier this year. After several delays, Santa Ysabel launched Desert Rose Bingo, and claimed that PrivateTable would soon go live for real money play.