In July of this year, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Indians launched an online poker platform in the state of California. While the poker room, PrivateTable, did not initially offer real money wagering, the operator made it clear that that was their intention, and sooner than later. Now, four months and a series of delays later, the tribe has elected to move forward in a different direction, launching a real money online bingo site instead.
The new California online bingo room, DesertRoseBingo.com, is owned, operated and licensed by the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel. The tribe offers Class II gaming on its reservation, and is thereby extending its federal rights to provide the same style of gambling via the internet.
Real money bingo games are already available to players physically located in the state, but that may change soon enough. According to the website, “During the initial Beta period, ONLY RESIDENTS OF CALIFORNIA will be allowed to register on the Desert Rose Bingo website.” Interested players who are not in California are asked to leave their email address to receive updates on the website’s status.
Desert Rose Bingo is synonymous with the majority of online bingo sites operating from international locations. Members can play the games while chatting within the community and add people to their friends list, promotions are available and there’s a special feature bonus game worth $10,000. However, the majority of the website, including a list of the games available, is off limits to anyone without a registered account (i.e. everyone outside of California).
The strict limitations of the online bingo site can likely be linked back to Santa Ysabel’s previous attempt to launch a real money online poker room in California. State regulators were up in arms, promising to have the poker site shut down immediately if it were to begin offering real money play. While the tribe’s legal advisors insisted the state had no right to do so, the Iipay Nation postponed the launch indefinitely.
One area of the Desert Rose Bingo site that is accessible to everyone is the FAQ page. The third question on a long list of Q&A’s asks, “Is there a way someone could see an example video of the games?” The concise response is, “Sorry, no.” A series of other questions, all relating to why the website’s policy regarding mandatory registration prior to access is so stringent, are all answered with the same phrase; “To meet legal and regulatory requirements.”
A press release issued by the tribe on October 30, the day the site’s real money online bingo games went live, shed a little on the gaming options. “Starting today, registered users who are California residents, 18 years or older, located in California, can purchase bingo cards in U.S. currency to be eligible to win cash prizes. Bingo cards will be sold in denominations of $0.01, $0.05, $0.25, $0.50, and $1.00.”
The announcement went on to clarify the legality of real money online bingo in California, stating that all “real time live bingo game action is played by a “proxy” of the web-browser enabled device user who has accessed the tribe’s Class II bingo gaming system. At no time is live bingo game action performed by the user. This ensures that all game play takes place on Tribal lands, under the jurisdiction of the Tribal government and is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
It’s pretty obvious that the Iipay Nation wants to ensure they stay within their legal limits with the real money online bingo launch. So long as no repercussions arise on a state or federal level, perhaps the eventual conversion of PrivateTable to a real money online poker room won’t be too much further away.