North Bay Tribes Push for Legalization of Sports Betting in California’s Tribal Casinos

The North Bay tribes are supporting the legalization of sports betting at native land casinos. This results in an expensive conflict between the tribes and other bookmakers as it may give tribal casinos a monopoly on sports gambling. 

The state measure in question is scheduled for the ballot in November next year and would potentially make tribal casinos and the four horse tracks in California the sole places where sports betting is allowed, as well as legalize roulette and dice games. It would include a 10% tax for the horse tracks and would require tribal casinos to at cover their regulatory costs. 

Tribal Casinos Are Supporting The Measure

Sonoma State University’s chair of the political science department David McCuan is supportive of the decision as it will improve the gambling conditions and will make it unnecessary for passionate bettors to travel to Vegas. 

Various tribes and organizations have provided their monetary support for passing the state measure. The sum all California tribes have collected to that end is $11.5 million, with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria providing $1.7 million of that total.

The chief executive of Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians’ River Rock Casino, Sue Ascanio, said that his party supports the measure despite not contributing financially yet. He explained that tribal casinos are highly regulated and have years of experience, therefore are the best candidate for handling sports betting. He pointed out that illegal and non-regulated betting is detrimental to California.  Graton Tribal chairman Greg Sarris also declined to comment.

Opposition From Other Gambling Sites

The tribal casinos’ competitors are unhappy with the state measure and are leading a counter-campaign that has used up $7 million as of now. 

California Gaming Association’s president, Kyle Kirkland, pointed out that the measure’s goal isn’t to legalize sports betting in the state but to solely benefit the tribal bookmakers and support an untaxed monopoly. 

Last year’s opposition came from Senator Bill Dodd, who supported legalizing sports betting in all casinos. In the USA, sports gambling was legalized three years ago and still isn’t accepted by all states. In a recent interview with The Press Democrat, the senator shared that he supports the tribes’ help to local communities and their right of operating sports gambling but thinks that they are anti-competitive in their support of the state measure.  

Dodd is a firm supported by online betting and believes prohibiting it would be to the detriment of the whole state. He thinks that online bookmakers will stand against the state measure. 

The senator hopes that the conflict will be resolved with a sound consensus that will benefit both sides before the measure gets the chance to be voted on. 

McCuan, however, is ready to confront the opposing betting companies: Draft Kings and Fan Duel. He said that he is fully committed, and this is about sending a message that tribal casinos are “willing to go to war.”  The opposing operators refused to comment on the challenge. 

It is unsure where the tension between the tribal casinos and gambling operators will go and what will happen to the state measure. The two factions have a history of disagreement with one another that spans numerous states and countries. In Washington state, there was a similar situation where tribal casinos opposed other operators receiving the rights to run sports betting. 

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