CNIGA represents 52 recognized tribes

California's leading tribal gaming association firmly rejects sports betting ballot measures

Reading time 2:13 min

The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) is publicly opposing two proposed ballot measures aiming to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos, effectively derailing the initiative.

The association's executive committee, after meeting with the initiatives' proponents, expressed dissatisfaction, though the individuals involved in the discussion were not specified. The key figures behind the initiatives are Ryan Tyler Walz and Reeve Collins, The Sacramento Bee reported.

“The entire effort surrounding these initiatives was handled abhorrently by the initiative sponsors,” CNIGA Chairman James Siva said in a statement. “It is hard not to be offended when listening to these individuals speak. This is another example of outside influences trying to divide and conquer Indian tribes. We will not let history repeat itself.”

This stance contradicts the recent clearance by the California Attorney General's Office for the initiatives, which seek to establish California tribal casinos as the exclusive providers of both in-person and online sports betting.

Victor Rocha, of the Pechanga Band of Indians and conference chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, has also publicly criticized the proponents, labeling them as "morons" and declaring the initiative as essentially defunct, the report said.

Two ballot initiatives that would pave the way for tribal entities in California to gain exclusive rights to offer sports betting, both in physical locations and online, were filed with the state's attorney general in October.

One of the initiatives, named "The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act," provides details on how sports betting would operate under tribal oversight in California.

It suggests amendments to Article IV, section 19 of the California constitution, necessitating tribes to allocate 15% of their adjusted sports wagering gross gaming revenue (GGR) to a tribal sports wagering revenue-sharing trust fund.

Additionally, they would be mandated to contribute 10% of their adjusted sports wagering GGR to the California homelessness and mental health fund. Furthermore, the initiative stipulates that all sports betting advertising should be exclusively targeted at individuals aged 21 and over.

Tribes wishing to participate would need to collaborate with licensed sports betting operators, vetted by the Tribal Gaming Agency and approved by the California Gaming Agency.

The other initiative, titled "The Tribal Gaming Protection Act," underscores that sports betting will be an exclusive offering through tribal entities in California, effectively granting them a monopoly over this segment.

California tribes have been successfully engaged in the gaming market for more than four decades. This didn’t happen by mistake, nor without careful consideration of the effects on our members and our surrounding communities. Tribal Leaders are the experts, and we will decide what is best for our people,” Siva said in the statement.

“Now that the sponsors have heard directly from tribes that their efforts are not supported, we call on them to drop the initiatives as they have pledged to do if tribes were to oppose them. Our opposition could not be more clear and is irrevocable,” the statement said.

CNIGA was founded in 1988 and is comprised of 52 federally recognized tribal governments and associate members who are dedicated to the tribal government gaming industry. As per the association, CNIGA is dedicated to the purpose of preserving and protecting Indian gaming on federally recognized Indian lands.

It acts as a planning and coordinating agency for legislative, policy, legal and communications efforts on behalf of its members and serves as an industry forum for information and resources.

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