California Tribal Gaming Leaders Skeptical of Sports Betting Prospects in 2024 Election Cycle
California tribal gaming leaders are expressing doubts about the likelihood of sports betting gaining traction in the state ahead of the 2024 election cycle. According to the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) Chairman James Siva, voters in the state are suffering from fatigue related to the issue of sports betting, making it an unattractive proposal for the upcoming election.
During a recent webinar, several prominent figures, including the executive director of the Indian Gaming Association, James Giles, along with Indian Gaming Association Conference Chairman Victor Rocha, discussed the Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act, which was introduced on October 27. The proposal, filed by Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins of Pala Interactive, was submitted to major tribal casino operators in the state without prior discussions, a move that was seen as a misstep.
In response to the proposal, Siva criticized the decision to reintroduce the sports betting issue in the midst of voter fatigue, especially after contentious ballot fights in 2022 over Propositions 26 and 27. Given this fatigue, he suggested that it may be more strategic to wait for the issue to fade from the public discourse before reengaging in future election cycles.
Rocha and Siva also highlighted the exclusive compacts that tribes have with the state, emphasizing that any additions to Class III gaming must come through tribal operators. They asserted that non-tribal influences should not impose sports betting on tribal operators, but should work in partnership with them to advance the effort.
Additionally, they pointed out that the current proposed legislation could serve as a template for a future ballot proposition in 2026, aligning with the decision to forego the 2024 election cycle. The deadline for collecting 900,000 signatures to get the proposal on the 2024 ballot is June 27, 2024, a challenging task given the current state of voter fatigue.
Furthermore, concerns were raised about the flawed approach that California is taking towards sports betting, with an initial emphasis on retail betting over mobile wagering. This approach fails to consider the convenience and revenue potential associated with mobile betting, as evidenced by the majority of sports bets placed on computers or mobile devices in the U.S.
In light of these factors, it is apparent that California’s sports betting prospects for the 2024 election cycle are uncertain, with tribal leaders emphasizing the need for a more strategic and collaborative approach to ensure the success of sports betting in the state.