The International Center for Gaming Regulation (IGCR) convened this week to discuss the upcoming Prop 27 and Prop 26 ballot votes in California. ICGR Distinguished Senior Fellows Steven Light and Kathyrn Rand discussed why the groundwork for Tribal sports betting in California has been well laid out, despite Prop 26 appearing to be “underwater.”
The Fellows discussed the current state of Tribal sports betting in the US. Rand commented: “Sports betting is undergoing a rapid spread across the US. That’s at a state level, but what does this mean for Tribes? Sports betting is considered a Class III game under Indian Gaming Regulations Authority (IGRA) operational standards.
“Does that mean all 25 states where Class III Tribal betting is allowed have sports betting? Not necessarily – we’ve got 22 states with Tribal sports wagering.” She noted that California is notable for its lack of Class III Tribal gaming as the Golden State seems like fertile ground for Tribal sports betting to flourish.
California has a “robust” existing Tribal gaming market, a high population with demographics in line with the typical sports bettor, professional teams with strong brands, support for Tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency and Tribal representatives in politics.
Light commented: “California has historically been a bellwether state for gambling expansion and regulation, looking at the 1987 Cabazon case.” This landmark case set a nationwide precedent whereby states could not impose regulations on Indian reservation gambling.
Light continued: “It created the opening for the creation of the IGRA. The existing Tribal presence is robust in California, to say the least. There are 75 compacted Tribes there, 66 or so which have gaming operations, with an estimated $8-9bn market.”
The Fellows suggested the reason that both Prop 27 and Prop 26 seemed doomed at the upcoming vote was the extent of what they were asking for.
Prop 26 would legalize retail sports betting at Tribal casinos on Tribal lands, allowing people to wager on pro, college or amateur events. It would do the same on commercial horseracing tracks. Furthermore, it would authorize roulette and dice games at Tribal casinos, opening up re-negotiations of compacts.
Californian voters are not likely to vote in favor of either measure. However, the IGCR Fellows shared their belief that Tribal sports betting will be welcomed by the Golden State further down the line.