Proposals to legalize California sports betting next November are likely over before there is a chance to collect signatures, key tribal representatives said Wednesday.
There is no legalizing California sports betting without the support from the tribes, California Nations Indian Gaming Association Chairman James Silva said on The New Normal podcast, hosted by Victor Rocha and Jason Giles.
“If you come in and you disrespect tribes, if you disrespect tribal leaders, if you come in with this kind of air of you know what’s best for Indian country, you’re done before you even get started,” Silva said. “And I think that’s the approach they’ve taken, that we know what’s best for you little Indians, conjuring up all the negative, derogatory statements that we’ve dealt with.
“Not just us, our past ancestors, our elders have had to deal with the same kind of derogatory, parental views of what tribes are and how they operate.”
Who is behind CA sports betting proposals?
The two proposals came from Pala Interactive cofounders Reeve Collins and Kasey Thompson.
The men decided to move forward with their plans for California sports betting even though the Pala Band of Mission Indians decided not to back the proposal, according to PlayUSA.
It is the same mistake, Silva said, that the corporate entities behind Prop 27 made when trying to legalize online California sportsbooks in 2022.
Companies mending fences with California tribes
“They understand now: they have to work with the tribes,” Silva said. “… That’s been the messaging that we’ve been sending to the big corporate guys like DraftKings and FanDuel, that yes, if sports betting comes to California there will be a relationship.
“But it won’t be operator to operator. It will be very much a different relationship.”
Not what California voters want
Silva said the polling data from various tribes suggest California voters do not want to hear about sports betting right now.
While 2026 would be the likely next opportunity for tribes, these proposals could let negative feelings from 2022 carry forward.
“So knowing that, trying to base our decisions and our path forward on actual information, not just how we feel, tribes decided we’re going to wait an election cycle, we’re going to let sports betting move out of the media and out of the voters mind and then work our way back into it in future cycles,” Silva said.
“And now, this throws it right back in the voter’s face.”
What would California sports betting look like?
If these proposals passed, sports betting could start around the beginning of the NFL betting season in September 2025. All licenses would come from tribes and those sportsbooks would be named after the tribe, instead of whichever company is operating the sportsbook.
That means no familiar brand names like DraftKings, FanDuel or Fanatics. A company that is contracted to manage a sportsbook for the tribes could receive up to 40% of net revenue with a seven-year maximum contract.
The plan also calls for in-person account registration, in a seeming attempt to pacify tribes wanting to maintain foot traffic.