Tribal Gaming Operators in California Push Back on Sports Betting Proposals
In the state of California, tribal gaming operators have expressed their strong opposition to a pair of sports wagering proposals that were put forward on October 27. The filing for The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act has sparked controversy among the Native American tribes, with representatives of an unnamed tribe filing the document with the state attorney general’s office.
The document was signed by Ryan Waltz, with media and public inquiries directed to Reeve Collins, the co-founder and CEO of Pala Interactive. This has led to speculation that the Pala Band of Mission Indians, which owns the Pala Casino Spa and Resort in San Diego County, was behind the filing.
Victor Rocha, a member of the Pechanga Band of Indians and conference chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, voiced his opinion on the matter, dismissing the proposal as “dead on arrival.” His stance represents the sentiment of many tribal gaming leaders in California.
The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) expressed disappointment with the lack of consultation from the sponsors of the initiatives, who failed to engage with the state’s largest tribal gaming association before filing the proposals with the Attorney General.
There was also speculation that Boyd Gaming, which acquired Pala Interactive last November, may have been involved in the filing. However, David Strow, Boyd’s vice president of corporate communications, confirmed that the company is not involved in the proposed legislation.
Boyd Gaming’s decision may be related to its partnership with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe, as the company runs the Sky River Casino in California in collaboration with the tribe. Additionally, Boyd owns a 5% stake in FanDuel, the leading online sportsbook operator in the U.S., but it has not actively pursued access to the California market.
The opposition from tribal gaming operators and the lack of support from major gaming companies demonstrate the complexity of the sports betting debate in California. The failed initiatives in the 2022 midterm elections made it clear that the issue is contentious, and it remains to be seen whether a viable solution can be reached ahead of the 2024 election cycle.