Increasing Adversity Doesn’t Prevent California’s Tribal Gaming Sector from Growing

California has several tribal gaming nations battling various issues of late. James Siva, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) chairman, stated last week in a State of the Tribal Nations address in El Cajon that they have had tough moments.

Siva’s speech started the Western Indian Gaming Conference that the Sycuan Casino Resort hosted between Tuesday and Thursday. Besides, it was the first conference to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The chairman said that California’s tribal gaming sectors should continue growing. Two tribes have launched casinos in the region over the past year. The Wilton Rancheria launched Sky River Casino near Sacramento, and the Elk Valley Rancheria launched a gaming property in Crescent City.

Siva added that CNIGA is also growing as it has 47 members after the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Karuk Tribe, the Colusa Indian Community, Big Sandy Rancheria of Mono Indians, and the Alturas Indian Rancheria joined it.

Can California’s Gaming Nations Offer Sports Gambling?

Siva is the Morongo Band of Mission Indians‘ vice chairman. He stated that the nations have to unite and asked their leaders to partner with the Morongo Band to defend their sovereign rights. They created CNIGA to protect Tribal Sovereignty.

Most of the state’s Native tribes opposed Proposition 27 in 2022. National online bookmakers proposed for the state to allow online gambling.

Several operators, including FanDuel and DraftKings, spent almost $170 million to support the proposal. Unfortunately, only 17 percent of voters backed it.

Proposition 26 intended to legalize retail sports gambling at licensed race tracks and tribal casinos. But it failed after getting 33 percent support. This didn’t discourage the state’s tribal gaming nations from mobilizing $237 million and spending a huge chunk of it opposing Proposition 27.

Siva stated that Prop 27 ought to remind the local tribal gaming sector about its huge revenue potential. He added that sports gambling operators won’t intimidate the tribes if they start another betting campaign. Besides, tribes have a better chance to provide sports gambling compared to commercial corporations.

The tribal group chairman revealed that they have a good track record of running licensed gaming establishments in California. It is tricky for a sports gambling ballot to occur before November 2024.

Another Cardroom Moratorium

The tribal nations have been at loggerheads for many years with local cardroom casinos. Their leaders claim cardroom operators violate the state’s gambling regulation by installing house-banked Class III gaming tables that should only be in tribal casinos.

The state’s cardroom expansion moratorium expired a few weeks ago, and Siva is afraid that this might encourage illegal gaming. It influenced CNIGA to support Assembly Bill 341.

State Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, crafted the proposal aiming at prolonging the moratorium by two decades.

Besides, it would prevent the approval of license applications for cardrooms that hadn’t launched by December 31, 2022.

Ramos is the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ former chairman. The California Cardroom Alliance backed his bill since it allows the expansion of small cardrooms.

Siva wants California to enforce its gambling regulations before cardrooms expand their operations. Even so, the moratorium might be an obstacle.

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