Towards the end of November, California attorney general Kamala Harris asked for a temporary restraining order to be granted against Desert Rose Bingo, a bingo site that is currently providing real-money games to state residents. In terms of legality, this is a major issue, as California has never legalised online gambling, unlike the states of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Explaining the legality of this issue is a head-scratcher. Okay, so Desert Rose Bingo is a real-money bingo site that is operated from the sovereign land of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, which is a tribe of Native Americans. Under federal legislation, such tribes are free to govern their own land, within reason, and determine their own laws – so far so good.
However, the real issue emerges when it comes to playing on a bingo site licensed by a Native American’s tribe’s own gaming commission, which, in this case, is the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission. Above the commission, though, the Iipay Nation is required to comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
In essence, a bingo site licensed within Iipay Nation land would have complete legal jurisdiction to anyone playing within the territory. However, Desert Rose Bingo has openly admitted that it will be providing access to its bingo games via a series of proxy servers, which, as an approach, essentially amounts to a whole lot of loop holes.
Despite that obvious target, however, the attorney general is attempting to argue that Desert Rose Bingo is an “electronic facsimile (copy) of bingo” and is therefore not a Class II form of gaming under the guidelines of the IGRA. Curiously, though, bingo is specifically listed within Class II, along with poker, while casino games are deemed as Class III.
Going back to the proxy situation, the Iipay tribe argues that the proxy servers delay the act of the games being played and thus ensure that they are not actually being played. However, this is not good enough for the attorney general, who eventually seized upon the issue of California residents not playing on Indian lands, which would definitely be legal.
Another concern for the attorney general is that the bingo site is not in a position to accurately regulate the members who join this site. And what she means by this is that the site will be unable to verify the ages of all Californians who register an account, which might potentially lead to underage players joining.
Pointless Arguments from Attorney General
For all of those issues, though, it seems like the attorney general is wasting her time making moot arguments when, ultimately, it’s outright illegal to engage in online gambling on state-legislated land in California.
Although Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have all circumvented the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), California and the rest of the US are still currently adhering to the piece of federal legislation. The case between California and Desert Rose Bingo will be heard throughout December.
Related: Why Cozy Games close some bingo sites? Get details here!