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California: Key US sports betting operators join tribes against proposed state sports betting Initiative

California: Key US sports betting operators join tribes against proposed state sports betting Initiative

A coalition comprising major US sports betting operators, including FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Fanatics, has aligned with prominent California Indian tribes to express their opposition to a sports betting initiative in California. The Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) officially declared its stance on Tuesday, signaling a collective resistance to the upcoming initiative proposed by Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins of Eagle 1 Acquisition Co, and Ryan Tyler Walz.

“We recently learned that the authors of two sports wagering initiatives in California are trying to find financial support for signature gathering from sports betting operators. In the interest of clarity, and consistent with our previously stated opposition to these measures, we can commit that SBA won’t be funding or otherwise supporting either of these sports wagering initiatives,” a media statement released by a spokesperson of the alliance read.

The signature-gathering process for the California sports betting initiatives, intended for the November ballot, was scheduled to commence last weekend. SBA shared three reasons for its opposition to the initiative:

  • Without significant and widespread tribal support, this initiative will fail and set back productive conversations for several years.
  • This initiative is constructed to prevent the market from reaching anything close to its potential to the detriment of all stakeholders — commercial operators, Californians, gaming and RSTF tribes — while enabling the unregulated illegal market to continue to thrive.
  • The original premise of building a business based on customers acquired illegally through offshore operations falls significantly short of the regulatory standards to which our membership adheres.

Responding to the coalition’s opposition, Thompson clarified that he had not solicited financial contributions from the operators for the campaign. He also asserted that the operators’ opposition stemmed from the initiative’s perceived benefits to tribes, suggesting conditional support if there was greater tribal backing.

“That is natural for them to come out against as we are the most tribal initiative ever that puts 100% ownership and control in tribal hands. I have not asked any of those companies for a nickel. Not one nickel in a sports betting bill, so you can only imagine how tribal forward it is. There is no mention of anything inappropriate in the bill, nor anything exclusive to Eagle 1, and to suggest otherwise is preposterous. I think they do not see the majority public tribal support, but would get behind a mobile bill like this if they did,” Thompson said in a statement, as reported by multiple publications.

The sports betting operators, involved in the current opposition, were part of a group that funded online sports betting Prop. 27 in the previous election. Prop. 27 faced strong opposition from leading California gaming tribes and was decisively defeated by voters in a contentious campaign. Subsequently, operators have been seeking to repair relations with California tribes, aiming to collaborate in future endeavors.

Last month, 28 gaming tribes, representing 99% of the financial resources against Prop 27, issued a letter expressing their opposition to the proposed initiative and urging them to step down. Operators, willing to align with tribes against an initiative they disapproved of, may be taking a preliminary step towards potential collaboration on future California sports betting initiatives.

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