California Nations Indian Gaming Association Displeased With Sports Betting Legalization Propositions

After seeing the rejection of two bills for sports betting initiatives in November this year, the Californian jurisdiction is nowhere close to the legalization of the segment. In the most recent development, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) has released an official statement in which the chairman, James Siva, has labeled the initiatives as a red flag for every tribal government and voter in the state. 

The two bills submitted by Eagle1 Acquisition Corp in October this year were the Tribal Gaming Protection Act and the Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act. The former would grant the governor authority under a “hub-and-spoke” model to enter into gaming compacts with federally recognized tribes for purposes of authorizing online sports wagering, while the latter would prohibit non-tribal entities from offering sports wagering.

Initially proposed in October, the unamended version of the two bills would have legalized betting in the state. The approval of the proposition would lead to the amendment of Article IV, section 19 of the state constitution, granting exclusive rights for online and retail betting to the tribes. However, CNIGA rejected the initial proposal in October and the amended version in November. The alleged reason behind the rejection was the protection of tribal gaming rights.

After all members of the CNIGA unanimously opposed the initiatives, the authority has made it clear that it wants the proponents to withdraw the initiatives and maintain the status quo. However, Eagle1 will look to create more amendments and present the initiatives to the state’s Attorney General in the near future. About $400 million was splurged on political fundraising to support the two bills.

The Amendment and The Argument

After the first amendment was made to the original bills – Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 – the CNIGA was still unhappy with the initiatives. The tribal authority believed that the approval of these laws would increase gambling activity and increase the chance of illicit activities that revolve around betting. According to reports, there were claims that it could help rich tribes monopolize the segment, leaving nothing but crumbs for other smaller tribes.

Meanwhile, the proponents took a more positive approach while presenting the initiatives and claimed that legalizing the segment of online and retail betting in the state would boost the overall revenue and could help California earmark funds for several relief programs, including alcohol and drug addiction, mental health, and more. However, the tribal authority has not budged and still stands against both propositions.

The CNIGA chairman, James Siva, said, “The disingenuous nature of these initiatives should be a red flag to every tribal government as well as every voter in California. The proponent of the measures are attempting to divide and conquer tribes by pushing an initiative that attempts to legitimize illicit off-shore operators and putting our governments at risk.”.

The Propositions and The Timeline

The Propositions 26 and 27 revolved around retail and online betting. The former was exclusively for the legalization of betting at physical locations like the brick-and-mortal tribal casinos and horse racing tracks across the state of California. The latter proposed the legitimization of the most popular and fastest-growing segment of online sports betting. But as things stand, both segments remain illegal in the CNIGA’s jurisdiction.

According to reports, the campaigns that were run for both these initiatives were one of the most expensive ballot campaigns in the history of the United States. Two big iGaming and online sports betting rivals – DraftKings and FanDuel – chipped in $60 million to back Proposition 27 because both operators realize the true potential of the Californian betting market. Several operators are expecting the Californian betting market to open in the next couple of years.

CNIGA’s Primary Objective Is Safeguarding Its Jurisdiction

Founded in 1988, the CNIGA is a non-profit organization whose sole objective is to preserve gaming for adults of legal age on federally recognized tribal lands. It is a planning and coordinating agency for California legislative, policy, legal, and communications efforts on behalf of its tribal gaming operators. With 52 members, the tribal authority’s particular objectives are to foster, protect, and advance the collective welfare and interests of Indian tribes by creating firm statutes on gaming.

In addition to assisting Indian tribes and the federal government by providing technical assistance related to gaming, CNIGA serves as a mouthpiece for information on all aspects of the operation of gambling by disseminating information that can help maintain the sovereignty of the state. After thoroughly studying the two propositions submitted for the legalization of betting in the jurisdiction, the CNIGA concluded that it could directly threaten the integrity of the state and the tribes, and hence, the authority stands firmly against it.

Tribals Not Tempted by Amendments

After the first initiatives were rejected, a set of amended proposals were tabled in November, and the intention of the amendments was to make it more lucrative for the CNIGA. The first change was in the date of legalization, as it changed from Sept. 1, 2025, to July 1, 2025. Apart from the timeline, the revenue share allocation for the tribes was increased significantly.

The gross gaming revenue (GGR) contribution to the tribal wagering revenue share trust fund was initially 15 percent. The figure was driven up to 25 percent in the amendment. It also simplified the process of tribes becoming their own affiliates, and they would not be obligated to provide financial backing to support the passage of the proposition. There were more benefits included in the amendment, but it has still not pleased the CNIGA.

About the Author
Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro covers the sports betting industry and revenue reporting at Gaming Today. Much of his work analyzes state revenue information, including betting activity and revenue for individual states and sportsbook operators. In addition, Nikhil provides news updates on the gambling industry itself, including product launches and legal issues. Nikhil’s previous experience includes five years with ESPN.

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