California Sports Betting Ballot Measure Tribal ‘In Name Only’

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California sports betting

The proposed California sports betting ballot initiatives filed last Friday do not seem to be gaining traction, as they appear largely without tribal support.

Representatives from the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians on Monday issued statements saying they were not involved in the process. 

The support of larger tribes with gaming experience is thought to be integral to any potential California sports betting initiative.

Tribes not involved in ballot effort

A statement from Pechanga made clear that the tribe has no hand in the mysterious initiative idea:

“As far as we are concerned, this is a tribal measure in name only. We are not aware of any tribes having drafted or played a meaningful part in this proposal. It sounds an awful lot like the ballot measure that was crushed by 82% of voters less than a year ago,” Jacob Mejia, vice president of public affairs for Pechanga, said. 

The statement from San Manuel took a slightly more reserved tone but also made clear the tribe’s disinterest:

“We were not involved in the development of these initiatives. San Manuel respects the sovereign rights of all tribes, but agree with CNIGA that any effort affecting tribal governments needs to be made by the tribes,” Dan Little, chief intergovernmental affairs officer for San Manuel, said. 

California sports betting proponents

The initiatives would give tribes exclusivity in offering both in-person and online CA sports betting, as well as some casino games. 

“These acts are designed to protect CA tribes and CA taxpayers who are seeing their dollars go to offshore unregulated gaming sites,” one of the proponents, Reeve Collins, told LSR Saturday.

Collins, co-founder and CEO of Pala Interactive, and Kasey Thompson are both involved with the Eagle 1 Acquisition Company

Thompson recently sent a letter to tribal leaders after filing the initiative, LSR confirmed. However, industry sources told LSR that tribal leaders found the letter “offensive.” 

What the letter to tribes said

As obtained by PlayUSA, the letter states:

“We have met with a number of California tribes, and we would like to meet with you and all other tribes over the next 30 days so that we can ensure that our initiative represents your interests and reflects your input. We do not plan to proceed unless we have the full support of the California tribes.”

California sports betting plan confuses

The strategy of the proponents has the industry perplexed. 

“This is a case study for how not to do it,” gaming industry veteran Richard Schuetz said.

His opinion was based on his experience working with CA tribes and the government. 

Tweeting through it in California

Schuetz added via Twitter:

“The next California general election will be on November 5, 2024. I am going to be busy until then, so thought I would file my story now: Neither tribal gaming measure will make the ballot, and if they do, they will fail. Thank you for your time.” 

Howard Glaser, global head of government affairs and legislative counsel at Light & Wonder, tweeted:

“Whoever is bankrolling this would be better off putting their money on a roulette wheel. Or save time and just burn it.”