The initiative to legalize sports betting in California has been suspended following opposition from the state’s gaming tribes. The spokesperson for the initiative, Kasey Thompson, cited the lack of support from the California gaming tribes as the main reason for not moving forward with the ballot initiative. Thompson had hoped for tribal support to proceed with the initiative, but after facing rising opposition among the 110 federally recognized California tribes, he made the decision to pull the initiative in its entirety.
Thompson expressed that he had hired a Californian firm to collect and print 1.2 million signatures as requested for a ballot but failed to garner the support from the tribes. He stated that there was opposition from the three big tribes, making it impossible for the initiative to pass in a public election.
The decision to delay the collection of signatures and await tribal support led to criticisms from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association Chairman James Siva, who stated that the timeline created by Thompson’s initiative wasn’t beneficial for anybody. Siva emphasized that the tribes were willing to have conversations but were put in a difficult position by the initiative’s timeline.
The initiative had also faced challenges in offering title over offshore gaming assets to the tribes, with Thompson and his co-founders offering the tribes the opportunity to use the initiative to acquire the title of offshore gaming assets in the state. Despite their efforts, none of the tribes publicly supported the initiative, leading to the suspension of the campaign.
Looking ahead, Thompson expressed regret for not involving the tribes at an earlier stage of the process and offered to work with them in the future. Siva also acknowledged the possibility for the tribes to propose a ballot on sports betting in California in 2026 or 2028, stating that it is about tribes maintaining their own destiny and doing the right thing at the right time.
Overall, the suspension of the initiative to legalize sports betting in California highlights the complex challenges involved in navigating tribal interests and establishing unity within the state.