California tribal leaders would rather see their own legal sports betting initiative fail on the November 2022 ballot than allow a second proposal from commercial entities to succeed. And while it’s become clear that the tribes are fractured over digital wagering, many are united in trying again to kill the efforts of outside interests to legalize.
Several years ago, the tribes successfully killed sports betting bills brought forth in the California State Legislature, and if their strong stance during that process is any indication, they’re ready to fight for what they say is rightfully theirs, no matter the cost or toll.
Just as a group of tribes led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians were granted an extension to gather signatures to qualify a retail-only sports betting initiative for the November 2022 ballot, state Sen. Bill Dodd in the summer of 2020 brought forth a legal wagering bill for the second consecutive session. But the tribes prevented it from even getting to a vote .
“The legislature tried again, but we killed it,” James Siva, president of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, said during a panel at the Indian Gaming Association convention in Anaheim last week. “Members in key leadership roles in the legislature were not happy to see tribes take control of this early on. They have different opinions about what they would want to see for sports betting … but since [our initiative was] qualified, there have been no other attempts.”
Two years later, Siva is still simmering. Dodd brought his most recent bill in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, when, Siva said, tribes across the country were trying to keep their people safe and fed and clothed during hard lockdowns that closed down many casinos, essentially taking their lifeblood away.
“Right when that member put the bill forward, it was at the height of the pandemic. … That’s the moment they chose to attack tribal sovereignty,” Siva said. “That’s the moment they picked.” Sovereignty is the real issue
While legal sports betting appears to be the issue at hand, Siva’s comments reveal the true concern — tribal […]
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