California Sports Betting Plans Face Opposition from CNIGA

The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) has made an official statement in opposition to two proposed initiatives that aim to bring sports betting to California in 2024. The initiatives, known as the Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act, were put forth by Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins, who have been described as “outsiders” in the tribal community. CNIGA Chairman James Siva criticized the pair for their approach, stating that their efforts were handled poorly and were seen as a way for outside influences to divide and conquer Indian tribes.

CNIGA, which represents 52 member tribes, is the trade association for California Tribal casino operators. The organization takes issue with the fact that the backers of the initiatives did not consult with the California tribes before moving forward with their proposal. The state’s tribes have exclusive compacts with the state, and any additions to Class III gaming, such as sports wagering, must go through the tribes.

CNIGA also highlighted the voter fatigue surrounding the issue of sports betting, referencing the costly and unsuccessful fights over Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 in 2022. These propositions, which were related to sports betting, were both rejected by California voters and cost approximately $250 million. As a result, the consensus among California Tribal casino operators is that sports betting should not be revived before the 2026 midterm election cycle.

Despite the opposition to the proposed initiatives, some CNIGA member tribes see potential in the Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act as a framework for a potential 2026 ballot initiative. However, the odds are against sports betting being on the California 2024 ballot. Additionally, Tribal operators in the state are calling for a measured approach to sports wagering, advocating for the implementation of retail sportsbooks at their casinos before expanding to mobile betting.