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California tribal sports betting ballots are filed

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The state attorney general has received two ballot initiatives which would grant tribes the exclusive right to retail and offer online sports betting.

Reeve Collins is the media contact on both ballots. Pala Interactive, founded in 2013 by the Pala Band of Mission Indians and acquired by Boyd Gaming by November 2022.

Voting was conducted on the 27th of October.

The Sports Wagering Regulation Act and Tribal Gaming Protection Act is one of the ballot proposals that explains how tribes will be able to offer sports betting in California. The proposal amends Article IV section 19, of the California Constitution, to mandate that tribes submit 15% of their adjusted gross gaming revenues (GGR) from sports betting into the trust fund for tribal sports gambling revenue sharing.

The tribes will also be required to donate 10% of the adjusted GGR from their sports betting into California’s homelessness fund and mental health. Sports betting advertisements must only target those over 21.

The tribes will have to form a partnership with operators of sports betting, who would act as vendors. Operators must have a license from the Tribal Gaming Agency, and be approved by California’s gaming agency.

The Tribal Gaming Protection Act is the other proposal on the ballot. It states that only tribes will offer sports betting in California.

Tribal Reaction

Victor Rocha of the Indian Gaming Association claimed that Pala Interactive asked tribal leaders to refrain from talking to the media until they had spoken to tribal representatives.

He wrote, “Can we discuss the stupidity of Pala Interactive/Boyd?” on X (formerly Twitter).

These idiots sent a note to California tribe leaders, asking that they not speak to the media until after speaking to tribal leadership.

David Strow replied, stating that “That was not us, Victor.” Boyd Interactive, the new name of Pala Interactive, had no involvement in that filing.

California Nations Indian Gaming Association has also criticised the ballots, expressing their disappointment that they weren’t contacted to consult.

CNIGA released a statement saying that it was “deeply disappointed” by the fact that sponsors of two initiatives filed recently did not contact the state’s largest tribes gaming association first for input and consultation. CNIGA, and its member tribes, were notified of their existence today when the initiatives were filed at the Attorney General’s office.

Tribal governments must be the ones to make decisions about tribal government’s future. We encourage sponsors to ask Indian Country what they think is best, instead of dictating.

Surprise ballots

Due to the lateness of its filing, and because voters in California rejected proposals for sports betting just last November, it is a bit of a shock that this ballot proposal has been submitted. Elections for November 2024 will be held on the 5th of November.

A poll conducted in February 2022 revealed that sports betting was gaining some traction throughout California.

It was announced in May that the Golden State will have a sports betting proposition on its ballot in November 2022. The Tribal Sports Wagering Act Initiative, a sports betting initiative backed by gaming tribes was also to be included.

Democrats in California have advised voters to vote against proposals for sports betting. The Democrats did not support the tribe proposal, but they endorsed a vote against the Proposition 27 operator-backed measure.

Both proposals were on the ballot for November 2022, but they ultimately failed to gain support from voters.

Next steps

Pala Interactive will have 180 days to collect the required signatures for the ballot using a random sampling method. This would push the filing deadline back to the end of April 2024.

When the Secretary of state determines that the raw number of signatures is greater than 100% of the total required, a random sample will be taken. The total signatures required in the case of Pala Interactive is 874 641. The amount required for ballots that propose an amendment to our constitution.

To use the random sample method, election officials must verify at least 500 signatures within their offices.

Pala Interactive has until 23 April 2020 to submit the petition at country election officials.

The full-check method is applied if there are more than 95% of signatures required to proceed.

The time between submitting the ballot and gathering signatures must be 65 days. The signatures would be collected on the 1 January.

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