Key Sovereignty Issue for California Gamer Tribes Opposing Proposition 27
Proposition 27, California’s commercial operator-backed initiative to legalize digital sports betting, continues to be beaten by many tribes in the state.
On Thursday, the group of lobbyists Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Game Safety held an online press conference in which Chairman Daniel Salgado of the Cahuilla Indian Band said tribal sovereignty and self-determination would be threatened if the proposal passed.
“From our tribe’s perspective, it hits a few notes – tribal sovereignty and self-determination,” he said. “It takes away a tribe’s sovereign right to choose. We look at how many people will actually participate. There are just over 60 tribes that offer gaming facilities, so those who don’t participate can’t join. When you look at limited game tribes like ours, we are forced to make a decision.
“On the other hand, from the operator’s perspective, they have made the criteria so restrictive that there will probably only be a dozen.”
The Salgado Tribe, which is located in a rural area of Riverside County, owns the Cahuilla Casino with the slogan, “Who says a casino has to be big for the winnings to be big?” Fewer people = better chances.
The tribe offers what is called “limited gaming”, unlike neighboring Pechanga or Yaamava casinos, which are full-fledged Las Vegas-style casino resorts owned by more powerful tribes. The rural Salgado tribe, with fewer than 200 members, is representative of many tribes in the state.
The tribes are not aligned
Thursday’s press conference exposed the growing divide between the tribes over what legal sports betting and, ultimately, online gambling will look like in California.
Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming is supported by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, owners of Yaamava Casino, and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and Pala Casino Spa Resort. The group counts nearly 40 tribes and tribal organizations in the state as supporters.
There is a second group supported by the tribe, Stop the corporate online game accessory, supported by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. This group claims nearly 50 tribal supporters – and some smaller tribes have lent their support to both efforts.
The two groups appear to have the same end game – preventing Proposition 27 from passing – but Thursday’s press conference organizers did not address the question of why the groups are not working together. Organizers have repeatedly said they are only there to discuss their own campaign.
While both groups still hope to keep “out-of-state operators” out of California and prevent them from “siphoning” money out of state, three small tribes in central and northern California have brought their business support. They may be hoping to land a big contract with one of the seven backers in the proposal: Bally’s, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sportsbook and WynnBET.
The proposition is one of two around legal sports betting that will be on the November ballot. The second, Proposition 26, would only allow in-person betting at tribal casinos and racetracks. Pechanga is a key supporter of this initiative.
Traditionally, tribes have had more success when united, and in California, when two proposals on the same subject were voted on, neither passed.
While the tribes are working hard to convince voters to reject digital betting – at least in the form of the current offer – there is some acknowledgment that this is likely to happen eventually.
“We look forward to having these kinds of relationships, but isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?” asked Salgado. “We want to ensure that we continue to retain primary responsibility for regulating the [gaming] environment. We want to make sure we help shape that and create a safe environment. »
No to in-person tribal betting
A day before the press conference, another group reiterated its opposition to one of the November initiatives. This opposition, supported by some California towns and cardrooms, is called the Taxpayers vs. Special Interest Monopoliesand attempts to defeat Proposition 26, the tribe-backed in-person betting initiative.
The group says the tribal initiative goes against the state constitution and would financially hurt cities across the state. According to a press release, “The measure puts more than 32,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in wages, and $5.5 billion in total economic impact at risk. Cities rely on this revenue for resident services. such as public safety, housing and programs for the homeless.
The cardrooms and tribes of California have long disagreed over who has the right to legal gambling.