Santa Ysabel Tribe Puts Online Poker on Hold, Launches Real Money Bingo

November 4th, 2014 | by Greg Shaun
Santa Ysabel Online Bingo California

The Santa Ysabel tribe has launched a real money online bingo site for players in California, but a prior promise of online poker remains in limbo. (Image:

California’s  Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel made waves this summer by announcing it would launch real money online poker in the Golden State, despite the fact that the state had not put a regulatory framework into place for the game yet. Now, the tribe has finally followed through on its real money gambling ambitions, though at least for now, there’s still no poker to be found.

Desert Rose Bingo

Instead, Santa Ysabel announced the launch of Desert Rose Bingo this week, a real money online bingo site that takes bets only from California residents. At the moment, the site offers players 18 and older who reside in the state the chance to play bingo, with cards ranging from $0.01 to $1.

The bingo site is being operated in conjunction with Great Luck LCC, an iGaming company that has developed technology that the tribe believes will make its games compliant with California gaming laws.

“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.

Online Poker “Not a Bluff,” Officials Say

The tribe first launched a play money poker site,, back in July. At the time, officials told the world that a real money launch was just days or weeks away.

However, there have apparently been setbacks that have prevented such a launch from taking place, though the play money site has remained in operation, offering freerolls and tournaments with merchandise prizes. That site uses software from IG Soft, and is very similar to the client used on the Winning Poker Network.

Officials of the Santa Ysabel tribe say that they still plan to launch real money poker sooner rather than later. They now reportedly claim that such a launch could come in the next couple of weeks, barring any further setbacks.

“Some believe our promise to bring regulated cash poker games to California has all been a great big bluff, for any number of self-serving reasons,” Santa Ysabel Interactive Director of Marketing Chris Wrieden told pokerfuse. “I can tell you it hasn’t been, it just takes time to put all of the pieces together. When we launch it will put our critics’ bluff theory to rest and when we accept our first online bet, we will be on our way to creating change for our industry.”

The tribe believes that it can legally offer online gambling from its reservation, provided that all of the gambling takes place on tribal land and is regulated by its own tribal government. It has been speculated that this claim would be challenged by the state or other gaming interests, though so far there has been little pushback against Santa Ysabel’s operations.

“Pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and its Tribal sovereign authority, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel will use Great Luck’s unique VPN Aided Play System (VPNAPS) to legally offer access via web-browser enabled devices to Class II bingo games played on its Indian lands,” the tribe announced in a statement.

That VPN “proxy play” technology may be a critical part of how Santa Ysabel officials believe they can operate within the laws they mention. According to the statement, such technology means that “all game play takes place on Tribal lands…and is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”


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