Tribal Association Concerned Over Sports Betting Bill in CA

А CA-updated sports betting bill has caused the Tribal Association to raise concerns. Tribal operators find the language in the bill to be controversial.

Updated Bill for Spots Betting Legalization Causes a Stir in California

Following a recently updated bill for the legalization of sports betting in California, a concern was raised by the tribal association in the state. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) commented on the language for legalizing player-banked games in the state. The bill proposed by Senator Bill Dodd and Assembly member Adam Gray was initially introduced in June 2019.

Last week, the bill actually received its administrative framework. Back in July, 2019 Assembly member Adam Gray put forward ACA 16. This was a proposal to amend Section 19, Article IV of the California Constitution in order to enable the legislation to authorize sports betting in the state. The actual amendment, SCA 6 was offered by Senator Bill Dodd and it actually backs up ACA 16.

What Part of the Bill the Tribal Operators Find as Controversial

However, when comparing the bill with proposal ACA 16, it seems that the bill is favoring tribal gaming operators. In other words, sports betting and retail will be limited to tribal casinos and racetracks. Furthermore, the approval will be done by the voters and not cardrooms in the state.

The bill further offers a 10% tax on gross revenue for land-based operations and a 15% tax for online and mobile sports betting. Initial licensing fee of $5 million will be payable by online operators. Additional annual fee of $1 million is also applicable for renewal. Funding for problem gambling in the Golden State will take 1% of the revenue.

But here is why the tribes and lawmakers still don’t see eye-to-eye. As per state legislation, tribal casinos have exclusivity over house-banked games. However, the new bills seek to amend this and allow player-banked games be part of the legislation. Player-banked games are taking place even today in private card rooms, and they don’t effectively break any laws, as the bank is no longer the “house,” but one of the players, and often on rotating basis.

Tribes have objected to the player-banking rule on multiple occasions, and they have sought to outlaw it. Now, with the proposed bills, lawmakers want player-banked games to be legitimized. In exchange, though, tribes would receive licenses to add craps and roulette games.

CNIGA’s Statement on the Controversial Bill

CNIGA’s Chairman, James Siva expressed his concerns following the updated bill. He commented that the bill’s language although it is after legalizing and regulating the market, it also: “provides California’s commercial card room industry with a massive expansion of games, by legalizing the use of proposition players to serve as the bank, a notion that has been rejected by California’s voters and fundamentally changes the legal structure of California’s peer-to-peer gaming industry.

Siva continued by saying that such expansion of gaming combined with the player-bank model might threat the established and guaranteed fair and safe gambling environment in the state. He continued by stressing out that the current rules and regulations ensure the fair and safe gambling and they also comply with the federal laws, aiming at stopping of money laundering.

Siva further noted that at such time of dire need, it is understandable that the government is looking for additional revenue. With that being said, although the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is slowly passing away, the Tribal casinos have also taken a heavy hit. Siva said: “However, we must not ignore one disaster in order to remedy another. We must move carefully and thoughtfully.” In conclusion, CNIGA Chairman said that the industry is looking forward open and meaningful discussions.

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