California Tribal Leaders Say Voters Aren’t Ready for New Sports Betting Measures

  • Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins have filed two new measures for the November 2024 ballot
  • California tribal leaders believe that 2026 is a more realistic year to revive sports betting talks
  • In November 2022, voters failed to support either Proposition 26 or Proposition 27
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The California Nations Indian Gaming Association has dismissed sports betting measures in the state, claiming voters aren’t ready for it. [Image:]

Not what voters want

Proposals to legalize sports betting in California have been dismissed by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, which claims voters aren’t ready to hear about sports betting right now.

The Chairman of the association, James Silva, addressed his comments during The New Normal podcast, hosted by the Indian Gaming Association on Wednesday.

the California voter is just not ready for sports betting at this moment”

“All of the data shows the California voter is just not ready for sports betting at this moment in time regardless of whether it’s tribally or commercially led,” Silva said.

New proposals to put sports betting measures on the November 2024 ballot were submitted by Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins, co-founders of Pala Interactive, which is owned by Boyd Gaming. However, they allegedly failed to reach out to the California Nations Indian Gaming Association first.

According to Silva, tribes had decided to wait an election cycle to let the idea of sports betting move out of the voter’s minds before working their way around to it again. Silva added that “this throws it right back into the voter’s face, and a lot of voters are just tired of the conversation.“

Fool’s errand

At the end of October, Thompson and Collins filed two new sports betting ballot initiatives in California. The first initiative is called The Tribal Gaming Protection Act and the second is called The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act.

did “open up the conversation to 2026”

Victor Rocha, Conference Chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, said that while the latest proposals were a “fool’s errand,” it did “open up the conversation to 2026.”

The paperwork filed by the pair would give the governor of California the authority to negotiate agreements with the tribes. To place it on the November 2024 ballot, it would require only 900,000 signatures.

Failed support

In November 2022, hopes for sports betting in California were dashed after two measures, tribal-backed Proposition 26 and operator-backed Proposition 27, failed to gain voter support.

It was also the most expensive battle in California’s election history, costing both sides an estimated $450m to fund ad campaigns for and against both measures. Out of the two, Proposition 27 was the more contentious as it would have opened the door to mega-corporations such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM to take advantage of the newly launched market.

A poll released in early October also found that there was an overall lack of support for Proposition 27, with just 27% of likely bettors saying they supported the measure.

According to Rocha, 2026 is a more likely scenario for the discussion around sports betting to take place.

“I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks that 2024 is going to happen,” adding that coming back to it so quickly would make them “look like morons.”

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