Powerful California Native Group Votes "No" on Sports Betting Proposals

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  • The plans were filed late last week
  • The authors of the plans’ interest in California sports betting was not immediately evident
  • The tribes were not consulted prior to the filing of the proposals

A pair of California sports betting initiatives were shot down by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) last week.

The proposals, both of which had the goal of legalizing sports betting and giving the natives cole control of the market, were submitted to the Attorney General’s office near the end of October. Their failure to receive backing from the tribes means that they are likely to fail when they go before state legislators.

 California is still without a legal sports betting market despite having the largest state GDP and 38 other states approving sports betting.

An emergency override 

The pair of initiatives delegated control of the would-be sports betting market to the tribes—however, the authors did not consult anyone from CNIGA or any high-ranking officials from the native community.

The Tribal Gaming Protection Act and The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act were presented on the basis of a hub and spoke model. Essentially, all bets placed with online sportsbooks would be processed by servers at tribal gaming facilities, meaning the natives would have full control of the market. 

However, the authors’ failure to meet with CNIGA, which represents many of the most powerful tribes in the state, led to them voting unanimously not to support either of the proposals. 

“The entire effort surrounding these initiatives was handled abhorrently by the initiative sponsors,” CNIGA Chairman James Siva said in a statement. “It is hard not to be offended when listening to these individuals speak. This is another example of outside influences trying to divide and conquer Indian tribes. We will not let history repeat itself.” 

The vote came one day after CNIGA finally met with the proposal's sponsors, Ryan Tyler Walz and Reeve Collins.

Conference Chairman of the Indian Gaming Associates, Victor Rocha, said the meeting did not go well.

“So, the pokers bros spoke to CNIGA yesterday,” Rocha posted on X (formerly Twitter). They said they had conversations with tribes like mine & Morongo. A bald face lie. The conclusion: the tribes are positive they’re grifters. Emergency meeting [last Thursday]. Expect a complete repudiation of the grift.”

Past and future of California sports betting 

Not much is known about either Walz or Collins or why they’d hold so much interest in a California sports betting market. It was also unclear why they planned to run everything through the natives without ever consulting with them.

Walz does not have any ties to the sports betting industry. Collins is a co-founder of B2B online gaming platform Pala Interactive, although Pala as a company is not pushing either one of the proposals.

Both proposals, which work hand in hand with one another, need to receive 874,641 valid signatures by March to appear on the ballot during the November 2024 general election.  

CNIGA has asked Walz and Collins to withdraw their proposal from consideration.

A pair of sports betting proposals known as Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 appeared on the California ballot in 2022. Despite heavy hitters from the sports betting industry contributing over half a billion dollars, both failed to garner the necessary support to be passed into law. 

Prop. 26 was seen as more favorable than Prop 27. even though it too met an ill-fated end. It received 29.9% “Yes” votes compared to Prop. 26’s 16.6% and would have legalized retail sports betting for California tribal casinos and racetracks.

Gaming industry research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated before the November 2022 ballot that California would produce over $3.1 billion in annual sports betting revenue if retail and online sports betting were approved. That was also before the launch of ESPN Bet, whose capital and infrastructure are sure to permeate to more casual coteries of sports fans that didn’t previously gamble.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.