October 30, 2023 3 min read


California’s Latest Sports Betting Proposals Face Tribal Backlash

The filings, made on October 27, were met with swift criticism from various tribal gaming operators across the state

A pair of sports betting proposals emerged in California, aiming to reintroduce the contentious issue to voters in the upcoming 2024 election cycle

Pala Band of Mission Indians’ Suspected Role Sparks Controversy

The documents, filed under the name “The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act,” were signed by Ryan Waltz, prompting speculation about the involvement of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, owners of the Pala Casino Spa and Resort in Northeast San Diego County. Despite the rumors, the filing did not directly associate itself with any specific tribal entity, leaving the origins of the proposals shrouded in mystery.

Victor Rocha, a member of the Pechanga Band of Indians and conference chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, expressed skepticism about the viability of the proposals on X (formerly Twitter), stating: “In my humble opinion, it’s Pala. It’s interactive. It’s dead on arrival.”

The introduction of these proposals stirred strong reactions from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA). The organization expressed deep disappointment, criticizing the sponsors for not consulting with the state’s largest tribal gaming association before filing the initiatives with the Attorney General’s office. CNIGA urged the sponsors to engage with Indian Country and seek input rather than dictating decisions.

Tribal Concerns Escalate as Boyd Gaming Denies Involvement in the Proposals

The involvement of Boyd Gaming, which acquired Pala Interactive last November, also sparked speculation. However, David Strow, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Boyd Gaming, denied the company’s participation in the Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act. This clarification came amidst concerns that Boyd Gaming’s interests might conflict with those of California tribes.

The filing emphasized the need for experienced and highly regulated operators to supervise sports wagering in California, pointing to Indian tribal governments as the most trustworthy entities due to their extensive experience in operating in-state gaming casinos. However, critics argue that while California tribes have experience in managing casinos, they lack a track record in operating sportsbooks.

In California, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians stands as the sole tribe operating a casino in a state where sports wagering is allowed, notably through its ownership of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. However, it is crucial to note that the sportsbook at this establishment is managed by Caesars Entertainment’s William Hill. This highlights that while California tribes have experience in casino operations, they lack a proven track record in managing sportsbooks.

The fate of the recently filed sports betting proposals remains uncertain. Without the backing of major tribal operators in California, these initiatives are likely to face insurmountable challenges. Presently, industry experts agree that among the mid-sized and large states, only Georgia is perceived as having a chance to approve sports betting activities in 2024.


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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