- A coalition of CA Indian tribes has gathered enough signatures to put expanded gambling on the 2022 ballot
- Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette are part of the initiative
- If approved by voters, domestic online sports betting will not be available in CA
After Florida recently legalized online sports betting through an updated Seminole gambling compact (pending federal approval), Connecticut quickly followed suit with a revised compact of its own.
Now, California Indian casinos are looking to make it three of a kind.
This week, it was reported that a coalition of 18 CA Indian tribes has gathered enough signatures to force the issue of online sports betting and casino gambling expansion.
This means the question will be put to Golden State voters on the 2022 ballot during the national Midterms.
In many ways, it’s only fitting that California tribes are seeking this popular expansion, as upwards of 30 US states have already legalized sports betting since the 2018 PASPA overturn.
Remember, it was the California Cabazon tribe that in 1987 received Supreme Court approval to offer legitimate casino gambling – as opposed to standard bingo gambling – within their sovereign territory inside state borders.
That was a watershed moment for all US gambling, as it established the Indian casino model adopted by federally recognized tribes nationwide.
Since then, of course, FL’s Seminole Indians have been the most successful gambling powerhouse.
The Seminole recently came to an agreement with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis to not only allow domestic sports betting on tribal land, but also to authorize casino craps and roulette, both of which had never been offered in the Sunshine State.
The California tribes are similarly angling for both craps and roulette, following the model established by the Seminole.
Also like the Seminole, the CA tribes are opposing legal online sports betting, settling instead for retail sportsbooks that would boost visitor traffic to their casino properties.
Of course, there are critics that oppose this purported “legal monopoly” held by the California tribes.
Former lobbyist Jay Michael and journalist Dan Walters wrote about the power shift in CA gambling some 20 years ago, portraying the situation as antagonistic (emphasis added):
“[Within a few years, the tribes became] perhaps the most powerful political force in the nation’s most populous state, using the non-Indian population’s own money, funneled through tribal gambling casinos, to buy unmatched access and influence in a Legislature that once declared them to be pests.”
This characterization is particularly amusing, given that it denigrates a free market on tribal land that enriches said tribes for providing desirable goods and services to the “non-Indian population.”
Describing the money as ill-gotten with terms like “funneled through” is also disingenuous and serves to highlight the tribal gambling model as some sort of an underground or black market enterprise.
Fortunately, the California tribes appear immune to such cheap shots, and their unwavering commitment to maintaining their rights promises to lead to bigger and better things in a state that sees more gamblers – and less gambling opportunities – than any other.
Of course, 2022 is still a long way off, and though we predict this ballot measure will pass, you’ll have to wait two or more years before you can place legal sports bets inside CA.
In the meantime, of course, it remains 100% legal to wager with offshore betting sites that serve USA customers.
These venues offer more convenience than CA tribes will be able to match even once domestic sports betting launches in the state, and they’ve also got real-money online casino games, online poker, and online racebooks to enjoy at your leisure.