California’s North Bay Tribes Give Support to State’s Sports Betting Measure

Casinos in California
California’s North Bay tribes are supporting the state’s attempt to legalize sports betting at casinos on native lands.

Last month, the state’s sports betting measure qualified for the November 2022 ballot. If approved by the voters, it would allow legal California sports betting only in the state’s tribal casinos and its four licensed racetracks.The initiative would also allow roulette and dice games, including craps at casinos in Native American land.

California Tribes Have Contributed $11.5M

California’s Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, the owners of the largest casino in the Bay Area just outside of Rohnert Park, is the third largest contributor backing the campaign to legalize sports betting. According to campaign finance records, they have donated a total of $1.7M over the past 18 months. Overall, California tribes have poured in $11.5M to back the measure.

The Day Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians are also backing the sports betting bill but have not financially contributed to the campaign, although it hinted of doing so in the future. Meanwhile, the Lytton Band of Indians and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have declined to comment on their position on the measure.

A Potential Expensive Campaign Battle

The support of the North Bay tribes sets up a possible expensive campaign battle against cardrooms and online gambling companies who argue that the measure only expands the gaming monopoly of the tribes. Seven California card room operators have poured in $7M to oppose the measure.

The tribes, which have endured a long period of neglect and exploitation by the state and federal government, have since gained significant political and financial power. They are are prepared to go to war against online gaming companies for the right to operate sports betting in California.

Sports Betting Worth Tens of Millions of Dollars

The California measure would permit gamblers to place legal wagers on professional sports games as well as collegiate and amateur sporting events except high school games and those involving California-based collegiate teams.

Under the initiative, horse tracks would be levied a 10% sports betting tax while tribal casinos would be required to pay a portion of their sports betting gaming revenues to at least cover regulatory costs. Lawmakers estimate that the legalization of sports betting would create tens of millions of dollars in annual tax income for the state.