San Diego Tribe Defends Right to Offer Online Poker

The Santa Ysabel tribe continues to fight for its right to offer online poker from a website based on the reservation. Although it was order to shut the site down last year, the tribe has issued a white paper detailing its legal arguments that it should be allowed to reopen it.

The Santa Ysabel tribe, which attempted recently to offer a real poker website, only to be slapped down by state and federal authorities, has published a white paper arguing its legal right to offer the game.

The paper was published in advance of the tribe’s participation in the upcoming Global iGaming Summit & Expo (GiGSE) later in April.

The paper, written by David Vialpando, chairman of the tribal gaming commission, and David Chelette, president of the poker website, both defendants in the complaint brought late last year by the state of California to end the website.

According to the paper, “Legal internet poker is at stake in a watershed case as the state of California steps outside of their legal dominion in an attempt to curtail the Santa Ysabel tribe’s interactive gaming plans.”

Much of the paper’s arguments focus on whether online bingo and poker are Class II or Class III gaming. It argues that they are Class II, and therefore outside of the jurisdiction of the state.

It also argues that the state wants online poker to be Class II when it suits its purposes and Class III when it suits other purposes. It asserts that the state is walking a fine line as it considers how to legalize online poker because it doesn’t want to void the existing state tribal gaming compacts.

According to the document: “The state of California is now poised to consider enacting legislation to authorize state-licensed interactive gaming to the state’s citizens, but the construct of the proposed legislation contradicts the state’s position that it has used in its legal attack against the small southern California tribe (Santa Ysabel). The state’s proposal is fraught with exclusionary language, the result of which has been to pit competing gaming interests against one another, including tribes against tribes, virtually guaranteeing gridlock and no state legislative action on this issue.”