California tribal groups team up to oppose proposed sports betting measures

California tribal groups team up to oppose proposed sports betting measures

Two Native American groups in California have joined forces to oppose two proposed measures that would allegedly threaten tribal gaming, which plays a crucial role in assisting the state’s economy. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) and the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN), which represent four dozen of the state’s more than one hundred federally recognized tribes, argue that the two proposed measures to legalize sports betting (including mobile wagering) throughout the state, would hurt tribal gaming.

Both groups argue that tribal gaming operations play a crucial role in supporting the economy of the state by generating billions of dollars in the form of taxes for the state and local governments, as well as by providing work to nearly 125,000 workers. In addition, the gaming properties help sovereign nations be self-sufficient.

The two groups are opposing the gaming measures that were first announced in May this year. The measures proposed by some tribal entities were approved for the November 2022 ballot after 58 counties of the state announced that they got required number of valid signatures from registered voters. The measures would allow retail-only sports betting, roulette and dice table games at tribal casinos as well as the state’s four thoroughbred racetracks.

Then, a group of seven would-be sports betting operators announced their own initiative. Statewide mobile wagering licenses would cost $100 million. Tribal operators would be able to vie for the license and get one for $10 million.

Greg Sarris, chairman of Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, said, “We remain committed to responsible sports wagering at tribal casinos that have a proven track record of operating safe, regulated gaming in this state. We are prepared to make our case to the voters, just as we have in previous elections, to oppose these deceptive and risky propositions.”

CNIGA Chairman James Siva added that no one should get befooled by the two gaming expansion measures.

The opponents of the new measures believe that allowing cardrooms, racetracks, and professional sports franchises to participate would not be in good interest of the tribal entities.

While proponents of the two controversial measures believe that commercial gaming expansion would generate millions of additional dollars to support affordable housing, mental health initiatives, public education, and much more; the opponents argue that the real intent behind the commercial gaming-backed measures is to undercut tribal sovereignty.