Harris files for injunction against Californian tribe following website launch

20 November 2014

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is seeking a District Court injunction to block the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Native American tribe from offering real-money online gambling in the US state.

The filing in the Court for the Southern District of California alleged that the new DesertRoseBingo.com website is violating state law and federal law. California is yet to legalise online gaming and does not have a regulatory framework in place for this form of gambling.

The tribe has stated that it is exercising its sovereign rights to offer Class II games as defined by the Indian Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, while at the same time ensuring online gambling is regulated by its own tribal government and only take place on tribal lands.

However, the court’s complaint alleges that the tribe offers its online bingo product regardless of where Californian players are located, in breach of the state-tribal compact which requires gamblers to be located in the tribe’s lands for it to be able to offer igaming products.

“The Tribe is reaching out to Californians irrespective of whether they are on its Indian lands. IGRA does not allow this. The UIGEA does not allow this. The Compact does not allow this,” it reads.

Games that fall under the Class II category in the IGRA include poker and bingo while Class III games such as house-banked games and slot machines can only be offered under an agreement between the tribe and the state.

However, the filing by the state said: “This action seeks appropriate injunctive relief to prevent unlawful internet gambling.

“Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel... has begun to offer a facsimile of bingo over the internet to bettors, who are not located on the tribe's Indian lands. In addition to violating state and federal law, the tribe's conduct materially breaches the tribal-state class III gaming compact between the tribe and the state.

“This constitutes an imminent threat to the public health, safety, and welfare of the state's residents, and a threat to good order.

“Therefore, this court should issue orders temporarily restraining, and permanently enjoining, the tribe's offering and conducting Internet gambling in breach of the compact and in violation of state and federal law.

“This court further should declare that the Internet gambling materially breaches the compact.”

Related article: Californian tribe to defy state law with online gaming launch