Santa Ysabel Launches Real-Money Online Gambling With Desert Rose Bingo

This article may be outdated. Get the latest news on California here.

UPDATE December 12: As first noted by Great Luck’s Joe Valandrea, a judge has granted California’s request for a TRO against the online bingo operations of the Santa Ysabel. The site has been shuttered in response.

The key sentence: “Considering the authority presented, including relevant state law, the Court determines that the gaming offered by Defendants is in violation of the UIGEA and relevant state law.”

Read the complete decision here.

Original story follows



The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel has launched a real-money online wagering product.

As we reported a few weeks ago, the tribe switched their focus from poker to bingo, and that’s what went live today –

The site is being operated in conjunction with Great Luck and is a VPN-based product that employs proxy play.

Whether that will be enough to satisfy lawmakers and regulators remains something of an open question.

Full statement from SY here.

“The Iipay Nation is excited to be the first Tribal government in America to deploy Great Luck’s VPNAPS technology,” said David Chelette, President of Santa Ysabel Interactive, the Tribal economic development entity operating the venture. “

“As the owner-operator, this licensing agreement not only underscores the sovereignty of Santa Ysabel to offer Class II bingo, it also represents the use of innovative technology to reach users. The Desert Rose Bingo enterprise will offer this small rural community and the Iipay Nation a positive economic impact.”

Overview of Desert Rose Bingo

  • Open to California residents located in California.
  • Players must be 18 or older.
  • Utilizes a VPN to route wagering information.
  • Utilizes “proxy play” to place wagers on bingo games.

How does proxy play work?

Per SY: “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.”

Background of Desert Rose Bingo

The concept (and brand) of Desert Rose Bingo stretches back before 2014.

This December 2013 article from Dave Palermo at Global Gaming Business provides a good overview of the background of DRB, and the challenges the concept has faced from the outset – challenges that by and large remain present in the status quo.

Impact on SY’s online poker plans

Representatives from Santa Ysabel confirmed to OPR that poker is still part of the tribe’s long-term plan for their online gambling portfolio.

One imagines that a relatively successful launch for bingo could in many ways pave the way for a poker product.

On the other hand, the launch of Desert Rose Bingo could spur legal challenges that would delay the launch of a poker product indefinitely.

Impact on regulated online poker in California

While it’s not immediately clear what impact the launch of DRB will have on California’s prospects for regulated online poker, it is clear that the two issues are likely to intersect.

DRB is live and accepting wagers now, only weeks before California lawmakers are set to return to work in December. And Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer is poised to make the reintroduction of an online poker bill his first priority.

Read the full statement from Santa Ysabel.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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