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In a surprise move, Californians can now enjoy gambling on bingo sites for real money. However it’s not just your average bingo brand launching in the state, and the process is nowhere near the same as it is to offer online gambling in states such as New Jersey. In fact it is the Indian tribe known as part of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel which have come to bingo fans’ rescue, launching the new Desert Rose Bingo site.

The site is open to all Californians over the age of 18 and is a real money gambling site. Some may be shocked to read that online gambling has all of a sudden become legal in the state, however that’s not strictly the case. While lawmakers are busy campaigning and debating the subject, the Santa Ysabel tribe has used a special clause from the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which allows them to operate this site within a legal framework.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory act basically allows the tribe to offer online bingo, as well as poker and other games, even where there are no explicit laws in place within the state of California. As such, the tribe also intends to launch an online poker site in the near future too.

Legalities are cleared up on the tribe’s own Gaming Commission website, where the tribe state the regulations in no uncertain terms. They claim that this tribe is exercising its sovereign right as part of their nation’s law, in the nation’s Gaming Regulatory Act whereby they may conduct and self-regulate Class II gaming from the tribe’s reservation. The Class II indication is important, as this includes games like poker and bingo, but does not however include the hugely popular slot-based games which are commonly found on bingo sites. Nor does this act include house-banked games like blackjack. Both these types of games are categorised as Class III games which fall under a different set of rules.

(Read about USA’s online gambling issues..) 

To operate the Class III games within their tribal casino, the tribe would have to come to an agreement with the state in question – in this case California – in what’s known as a Tribal-State Gaming Compact. Despite first negotiating this compact with the state of California in 2005, the tribe have no plans as yet to offer these sorts of games through their brand new bingo site.

In addition, the clause about the playing within the tribe’s reservation is very important. This means that anyone playing on Desert Rose Bingo must be within tribal lands. To ensure they can legally combat this and offer the site to players all over California, any new players must agree to engage a sort of substitute version of online bingo, in order to play the games which fall under the Class II category, under the jurisdiction of the federally recognised nation of which this tribe belong to. This means that in essence, any new registrants to the site will not in any way engage in live bingo gaming action. In essence users will play as a virtual representation of themselves, in order to be considered as playing within the legal jurisdiction. Hopefully this is just the start of legal online bingo in California!

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