California sports betting sees push back ahead of the advancement of a regulated sports betting marketplace in the Golden State – the bill faces stiff opposition from the state’s Native American leaders, and the newly drafted mobile sports betting proposal has garnered little support from tribal casinos.
California’s gaming laws are written in a way that has led to varying interpretations, with tribal casinos and private investors each understanding the verbiage in a way that supports their cause. The conflict between the two groups stems from the existence of privately run player-backed card-rooms, which skirt around the ban of house-backed casino offerings, which are not overseen by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.
When the state’s desire to expand gaming offerings was once again proposed last year, the CNIGA was quick to express their refusal to entertain any conversation related to sports betting unless the state chose to disband the for-profit, commercial card-rooms from “illegally” operating.
…cannot view your SCA 6 any other way than yet another betrayal of an agreement between the State of California and Indian tribes.
Following the latest amended proposal, the CNIGA maintained its unified stance against any new proposal, going as far as to release a written statement, given to lawmakers, which says that tribes “cannot view your SCA 6 any other way than yet another betrayal of an agreement between the State of California and Indian tribes.”
The new amendment to Senator Bill Dodd’s SCA 6 bill prevents card-rooms from partaking in the practice of accepting sports wagers, but does manage to toss these shops a bone — The bill confirmed the legality of the questionable language that tribal leaders often pointed to in their attempts to have the third-party run games shut down, giving card rooms a free pass to operate with no more disputes from their Native American competition.
Online Betting On the Line
As evident in revenue reports from states where both brick-and-mortar and mobile sports betting is allowed, more than 85% of the handle comes from mobile wagering. State legislators know that a mobile offering is the only way to fully see the financial rewards the struggling state could see via taxable revenue.
A tribal coalition proposal to only allow sports betting to take place on the floor of their casinos and racetracks was brought to a halt when the coronavirus lockdowns hindered the ability to gather all signatures, but a tribe spokesperson has already threatened a lawsuit to extend the June 25th ballot deadline.
California sports betting faces additional push back as a tribal spokesperson pointed to a private research poll that the coalition held, which reported that only 29% of California residents supported mobile betting, as further proof that the legislative push is unwanted and unpopular with their constituents.
With little time available to negotiate, it looks that the two sides will fail to find common ground and propose legislation that appeases everyone’s needs. Add in the fact that tribal lobbyists feel insulted that the state chose to drop their proposal in a time where tribal casinos are already reeling from the financial impact of COVID-19, it looks as if tribes will remain persistent in their efforts to not advance the bill.