California Tribes Afraid of Losing Sovereignty in New Digital Wagering Measure
Pushback on future plans
A California initiative to legalize digital sports betting known as Proposition 27 has come under fire from local tribes once again.
tribes would lose their sovereignty and freedom to operate if the measure is passed
A lobbyist group called Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming held an online presser Thursday condemning the plan. Chairman Daniel Salgado of the Cahuilla Band of Indians led the remarks, stating that the tribes would lose their sovereignty and freedom to operate if the measure is passed.
The United States’ most populous state would become a gold mine for online betting if it were legalized, but with each step towards new legislation, the battle between the tribes and the state intensifies.
The problem with Proposition 27
Salgado’s biggest gripe with Proposition 27 is that it strips the tribes of their ability to control their future in the gaming industry.
“From our tribe’s perspective, it hits on a couple of notes — tribal sovereignty and self-determination,” he said. “There are a little over 60 tribes that offer gaming facilities, so those who don’t participate can’t be a part of this. When you look at limited gaming tribes like ours, we’re forced to make a determination.”
“On the other side, on the operator perspective, they’ve made the criteria so limiting that there will likely only be a dozen.”
Salgado’s tribe offers “limited gaming,” which is a smaller and more intimate environment. This is a stark contrast to the mega-casino and Vegas-style casinos operated by the larger tribes, such as the Pechanga or Yaamava’.
California also has to balance the tribes’ requests with the prospect of a massive economic stimulus
However, California also has to balance the tribes’ requests with the prospect of a massive economic stimulus. As per an ESPN article earlier this year citing betting industry investor Chris Grove, a fully-developed betting market could raise $3bn in annual revenue.
A measure that would introduce mobile sports betting in California also made the November ballot after a sportsbook coalition raised over 1.6 million signatures in support of the cause.
California tribes not wholly united
Thursday’s press conference revealed an unfortunate truth of the tribes, which is that they are not unified in opinion; the tribes presented two main groups, both of which oppose Propositon 27, although they are working independently.
Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming is mainly supported by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, owner of the massive Yaamava’ casino, and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and the Pala Casino Spa Resort. The group consists of roughly 40 in-state tribal organizations.
Stop the Corporate Online Gambling Prop, a second tribal group, is backed by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
officials at the press conference did not answer questions as to why they were working separately
Officials at the press conference did not answer questions as to why they were working separately from one another. Instead, they said that the respective groups are focused on reaching their main goal, stopping Prop. 27.
Not every tribe is in support of the anti-corporate-gaming groups, either; three of California’s smaller tribes signed on to support gaming giants such as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and others.
Proposition 27 is not the only betting initiative that will be on the November ballot. Proposition 26, which allows for in-person gambling at tribal casinos and racetracks, is heavily supported by the Pechanga.
“We want to ensure that we continue to maintain the primary responsibility for regulating the [gaming] environment,” said Salgado. “We want to make sure we help shape that and create an environment that is safe.”
Another group known as Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies doubled down on its opposition to Prop. 26 a day before the press conference. This group, backed by certain in-state cities, claims the plan would damage cities financially.
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