by Mateusz Mazur

CNIGA Opposes Proposed Sports Betting Ballot Measures in California

The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) has taken a firm stance against two proposed ballot measures intended to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos in California.

This opposition comes after the association’s executive committee met with the initiatives’ proponents, Ryan Tyler Walz and Reeve Collins, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.

CNIGA’s Criticism and Opposition

CNIGA Chairman James Siva expressed strong disapproval of how the initiative sponsors handled the efforts, accusing them of trying to divide and conquer Indian tribes.

This opposition stands in contrast to the recent clearance of the initiatives by the California Attorney General’s Office, which would establish California tribal casinos as exclusive providers of in-person and online sports betting.

Public Criticism from Tribal Leaders

Victor Rocha, from the Pechanga Band of Indians and conference chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, also publicly criticized the proponents, dismissing the initiatives and referring to the sponsors as “morons.”

The proposed “Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act” outlines sports betting operations under tribal oversight in California. It proposes amendments to the California constitution, mandating tribes to allocate portions of their sports wagering gross gaming revenue to a revenue-sharing trust fund and the California homelessness and mental health fund. The initiative also emphasizes that sports betting advertising should target individuals aged 21 and over.

The “Tribal Gaming Protection Act” aims to grant tribal entities a monopoly over sports betting in California.

CNIGA’s Call for Dropping the Initiatives

CNIGA’s Chairman James Siva emphasized the expertise and success of California tribes in gaming over four decades and urged the initiative sponsors to withdraw their proposals, in line with their earlier commitment to do so if opposed by tribes.

Founded in 1988, CNIGA comprises 52 federally recognized tribal governments and associate members. The association is dedicated to preserving and protecting Indian gaming on federally recognized Indian lands. It serves as a coordinating body for legislative, policy, legal, and communication efforts and provides a forum for sharing information and resources within the tribal gaming industry.

Our Comment on the Article

CNIGA’s opposition to the proposed sports betting ballot measures in California underscores the complex dynamics between tribal gaming interests and legislative initiatives. The association’s strong stance reflects its commitment to protecting the autonomy and rights of tribal entities in the gaming industry.

This controversy highlights the intricate balance between expanding legal gambling options and respecting tribal sovereignty. CNIGA’s influence and advocacy play a critical role in shaping the future of gaming in California, particularly in ensuring that tribal perspectives and interests are duly considered in any legislative changes.

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