California Sports Betting Update: Third Tribe Backs Online Wagering Measure

Posted on: July 5, 2022, 10:04h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2022, 03:22h.

Supporters of Proposition 27, the measure to legalize online sports betting in California, announced Monday their effort has earned an endorsement from another tribal nation in the state.

Tachi Casino
An aerial shot of the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, Calif. The casino is operated by the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe, which announced its support of a measure to legalize online sports betting that will go before California voters in November. (Image: Tachi Palace)

The Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe became the third sovereign Indian nation to support the measure. That’s according to a release from “Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support,” a committee that supports the measure. It is backed by $100 million from seven sports betting operators.

Prop 27 is one of two sports betting initiatives that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot in the nation’s largest state. The other is Proposition 26, which asks voters to legalize in-person sportsbooks at tribal casinos and state-licensed racetracks.

The online sports betting measure includes tribal involvement. It says that any online operator must partner with a state-based tribal entity before it can get a license, which costs $100 million. Tribal gaming operators would also be able to apply for licenses at a price of $10 million. However, they would face restrictions on how they can brand their online platform.

The initiative calls for 85% of the revenue generated by a 10% tax on operators’ revenue to go toward mental health programs and initiatives for the unhoused. The remainder will go to tribes that do not participate in sports betting.

Prop 27 will provide us economic opportunity to fortify our Tribe’s future for generations and protect Tribal sovereignty,” said Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe Chairman Leo Sisco in a statement. “And it is the only measure that will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars each year to help solve homelessness and address mental health in California.”

Last week, the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians and Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians came out in support of the measure. Those two tribes and the Santa Rosa Rancheria all have Class III casinos that operate in the state. The Santa Rosa Rancheria operates the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, located 35 miles south of Fresno

Most Tribes Behind Prop 26

Despite what Prop 27 offers tribes, the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations and the California Nations Indian Gaming Association have come out against the online sports betting proposed amendment.

The new tribal endorsement for Prop 27 comes after “Californians for Tribal Sovereignty,” an anti-Prop 27 group funded by tribal gaming operators, issued a release with statements from other tribal leaders. They said an overwhelming majority of California Indian nations oppose the online sports betting measure.

Group spokesperson Roger Salazar slammed “Californians for Solutions” for what he called a “deceptive” campaign.

“Ninety percent of sports betting revenue goes out of state to the corporations who wrote the measure and are paying for this deceitful effort to fool Californians into thinking our tribal nations support this badly flawed measure,” Salazar said.

A spokesperson for the “Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming,” another tribal-backed gaming group created to support Prop 26, told Tuesday that they knew a few Indian nations would support the online sports betting measure. However, those defections likely won’t influence voters’ decisions.

“Prop 26 is strongly supported by tribes and gives voters what they want: a responsible approach to sports betting in a regulated setting where we can control to make sure underage kids aren’t gambling,” Kathy Fairbanks said. “Plus, it helps support tribes and their continued self-sufficiency, which voters also want to see.”

Voters Decide in 18 Weeks

The Nov. 8 general election is 126 days away, and the campaigns for and against the two California sports betting measures are just now getting into full swing. The next 18 weeks will feature more endorsements, more surveys, more mailers, and more commercials.

Combined, the four groups that have been established to promote or oppose the two ballot initiatives have raised more than $180 million to get out their messages and their votes this year. They’ve also already scored some significant endorsements.

While the Prop 27 supporters have unveiled the three tribal nations in the last week, supporters of Prop 26 have put out a statement of support from Dolores Huerta, a legendary civil rights leader and labor organizer in the state.

Another key group that has come out against the online sports betting measure is the California Teachers Association, one of the state’s largest public-sector unions.