Santa Ysabel Goes Live With Real-Money Online Bingo in California

Written By Robert DellaFave on November 3, 2014 - Last Updated on September 13, 2022 Tribe Launches Real Money Online Bingo

On Monday morning, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel owned announced that its real-money bingo site,, is now live and accepting registrants from the state of California.

Desert Rose Bingo is a joint venture between the Santa Ysabel and iGaming company Great Luck, and will utilize the latter’s browser-based VPN Aided Play System (VPNAPS) technology. Using this tech, players will engage a proxy of their web enabled device, be it a desktop, smartphone or tablet, ensuring that all play takes place on the Santa Ysabel’s reservation.

Whether or not this safeguard will be enough to satiate the long arm of the law remains largely in doubt.

Desert Rose Bingo: The basics

Desert Rose Bingo is available to California residents 18 years and older. At the present time bingo cards are available in four denominations: $.01, $.05, $.25 and $1.

Live bingo play is not performed in any capacity by the end user, instead, all real-money wagering is handled via proxy.

As per Santa Ysabel:

“Desert Rose Bingo is owned and operated by the federally recognized Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and conducts Class II Gaming on its lands in Santa Ysabel, CA.”

Players who reside outside of California, and who are interested in receiving Desert Rose Bingo updates, are encouraged to opt in to the site’s mailing list.

Desert Rose’s history dates back to 2013

Apparently, Desert Rose was to initially launch as a joint venture between Great Luck and the Alturas Band of Indians back in January.

In a December 2013 piece written for Global Gaming Business, Great Luck chief exec. Joe Valandra outlines the company’s plans to launch the product, indicating that Desert Rose complies fully with “both the IGRA and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).”

Desert Rose attorney Kevin Quigley concurs, citing:

“We know proxy play is permitted under IGRA’s own pronouncements. The ingredients are there for iGaming by Indian Country if it is done technologically right and legally correct.”

Online poker next?

Santa Ysabel Interactive Director of Marketing Chris Wrieden has confirmed to that plans to launch real-money online poker on the site within the “next couple of weeks,” pending any setbacks.

Granted, it’s difficult to place too much stock in any projected release window, as has indicated on multiple occasions since launching the play-money version of its site in July that a real-money equivalent was coming “very soon.”

If anything, the launch of Desert Rose Bingo may present legal hurdles that would delay the release of PrivateTable’s real-money poker room further. Irony abounds.

In either case, via today’s announcement, the Santa Ysabel have all but dispelled the notion that its plans were nothing more than an elaborate ruse designed to force California lawmakers to acknowledge small tribes as part of any iGaming bill.

As per Wrieden:

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. 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 critic’s bluff theory to rest and when we accept our first online bet, we will be on our way to creating change for our industry”

Early signup figures fail to impress

As of the time of this writing, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of activity on Desert Rose Bingo. The “Newest Members” tab is currently showing that a mere 10 residents have signed up since October 31. That’s about an average of 2.5 new players per day.

More laughable, is that the site’s top winner to date has raked in a paltry $2.22.

Based on these figures, it appears that Desert Rose may be remembered more for the legal debate it prompts than its success within the iGaming sphere. Time will tell.

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Robert DellaFave

Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

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