CA tribes reiterate they want nothing to do with sports betting initiative

Hand up signifying no
Image: Shutterstock

California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) is saying it loudly, clearly, and once again for those in the back of the room that they want nothing to do with the proposed ballot initiative involving California sports betting.

For the second time, the group of 52 tribes has voted on its stance regarding the initiative. During the first vote, a majority of the voting members opposed the measure. On the second vote, it was unanimous that every tribe in the organization does not approve. Multiple outlets report that CNIGA also sent a letter to those behind the initiative reiterating their lack of support.

“The disingenuous nature of these initiatives should be a red flag to every tribal government as well as every voter in California. The proponents of the measures are attempting to divide and conquer tribes by pushing an initiative that attempts to legitimize illicit off-shore operators and putting our governments at risk,” said CNIGA Chairman James Siva.

“The opposition coming from Indian Country is loud and it is clear. Tribes will not be distracted by outside influences making empty promises. Indian Country will stand firm in protecting our sovereign rights and integrity. We call on the proponents to do the honorable thing and withdraw these flawed initiatives.”

The second vote came after a proposed amendment to the initiative that would reallocate tax dollars that had been set aside for homelessness initiatives back to both gaming and non-gaming tribes.

The two men behind the initiatives, Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins, had previously stated that they would not pursue the measure if the majority of tribes were not on board. With 110 tribes in the state and 52 opposed, there is not quite a majority yet, but so far not a single tribe has come out in support of the effort.

The California Attorney General’s office issued its fiscal impact report on the two betting initiatives on Monday. In it, the office projected that the measure could bring in “tens of millions” of dollars of additional tax revenue annually but also cautioned it could negatively impact existing gaming tax revenue in the state. The report also noted the gaming expansion could necessitate increased spending on regulatory efforts in the “low-to-mid tens of millions of dollars annually”, but that the costs would be covered by the revenue sports betting would generate.