California tribal leaders have sounded off on proposed sports betting and expanded gaming initiatives submitted Friday for a review by the Attorney General’s office, making it clear where they stood on the measures. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association said it was “deeply disappointed” that proponents did not contact them first and get feedback from the organization representing 52 tribal governments.
“Decisions driving the future of tribal governments should be made by tribal governments,” CNIGA’s statement read. “While the sponsors of these initiatives may believe they know what is best for tribes, we encourage them to engage with Indian Country and ask, rather than dictate.”
The two proposed constitutional amendments were submitted by Ryan Tyler Walz, who paid a $2,000 fee for each submission. One would allow the California tribal gaming nations to open brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and offer online California betting apps, along with permitting roulette and dice-based table games at their land-based casinos. The other would prohibit anyone but a tribal operator from offering any kind of sports betting in the state.
A message to a spokesperson listed on both measures was not immediately returned on Monday.
New Effort A Longshot
Comments are currently being accepted for both proposed measures through Nov. 27 via the Attorney General’s website. If the measures proceed, supporters would need a minimum of 874,641 signatures from in-state registered voters to be part of the November 2024 general election. However, based on the proposed timelines in the 2024 initiative guide, both measures are running behind the suggested deadlines for getting the measures on next year’s ballot.
If approved for circulation, supporters would have 180 days to gather the signatures. However, in order to meet the state’s deadlines for the 2024 ballot, they would need to have signature gathering completed by late April for elections officials to verify the signatures.
Even if the tribes supported the proposed ballot measures, they’d still likely face uphill challenges to get approved. In 2022, two sports betting measures received only scant support as tribal gaming entities sacrificed their retail sports betting measure. Tribal nations spent hundreds of millions to campaign against an online sports betting measure supported by top commercial online operators. The fallout from that was so significant that few leaders on either side of the discussion have expressed an appetite for trying again this soon.
BetCalifornia will keep track of this and other developments regarding the push to legalize California sports betting.