The Pala Band of Mission Indians is not involved in either of the proposed California sports betting initiatives, a spokesperson for the tribe told LSR Tuesday.
Industry sources told LSR that the petitioners had discussions with Pala, but the tribe ultimately declined to move forward. A Pala spokesperson declined comment on whether discussions were held.
Why Pala appeared connected
Earlier in October, PlayUSA reported that Pala had relayed its intention to file an online sports betting initiative. One of the petitioners, Reeve Collins, served as co-founder and CEO of Pala Interactive from 2012-15, according to his LinkedIn page.
“These acts are designed to protect CA tribes and CA taxpayers who are seeing their dollars go to offshore unregulated gaming sites,” Collins told LSR Saturday.
Boyd Gaming completed a $170 million acquisition of Pala Interactive in November 2022.
The ties led tribal and industry officials to believe that both Pala and Pala Interactive were behind the initiative. However, both the tribe and Interactive parent Boyd Gaming denied involvement.
California sports betting initiative lead
Collins and Kasey Thompson are both involved with the Eagle 1 Acquisition Company. Ryan Tyler Walz is also a sponsor, though his tie to Collins is unclear.
Thompson recently sent a letter to tribal leaders after filing the initiative, LSR confirmed Monday. However, industry sources told LSR that tribal leaders felt the letter was “offensive.”
Victor Rocha, conference chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, tweeted last Friday: “This thing is so dead. Kasey Thompson & Ryan Tyler Walz are morons. You heard it here first.”
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians both said they were not involved in the process. The backing of larger tribes with gaming experience is thought to be integral to any potential CA sports betting effort.
Strategy perplexes industry experts
The strategy of the proponents has perplexed industry experts.
A signature-gathering effort could cost over $20 million, experts estimated, with no guarantee it succeeds.
“Whoever is bankrolling this would be better off putting their money on a roulette wheel. Or save time and just burn it,” tweeted Howard Glaser, global head of government affairs and legislative counsel at Light & Wonder.