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Tribes Will Control California’s Sports Betting Fate Moving Forward

Panel experts discuss California sports betting at SBC Summit North America.

Experts at SBC Summit North America discuss the future of California sports betting. (L to R: Jason Rosenberg, CEO and Founder, American iGaming Solutions, Andrew Alejandre, Tribal Chairman, Pasketna Band of Nomlaki, Frank Sizemore, VP of Strategic Partnerships FanDuel, and Daniel Little, Chief Intergovernmental Affairs Officer for San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

  • An expert panel at SBC Summit North America agreed that California tribes will control sports betting legalization moving forward
  • Racetracks and cardrooms will not be included
  • FanDuel and DraftKings need to regain tribal trust if they hope to be included

The future of California sports betting will be controlled by state tribes.

A panel of experts at SBC Summit North America unanimously agreed that California tribes will control when, and if, the state ever sees legalized sports betting.

“When we see FanDuel and DraftKings start to rebuild that trust, start to come and mend those wounds that they left, then we may be able to move forward. The way they came in was just ridiculous, that was damaging. It will take some work. Building relationships, it takes time with tribes. We’re not just going to trust you,” said Andrew Alejandre, tribal chairman of the Pasketna Band of Nomlaki.

No Chance for Legalization in 2024

FanDuel and DraftKings are both continuing to make amends to California Tribes after trying to push Proposition 27, which would have legalized online sports betting in the state, through the polls in 2022 and in direct opposition of state tribe wishes.

The tribe also attempted to push its own initiative, Proposition 26, which would have legalized retail sports betting at tribal casinos, but also failed.

The future of California sports betting, be it retail or online, will be controlled by the tribes, Frank Sizemore, vice president of strategic partnerships with FanDuel, said at the summit.

“We need to prove to the tribes that we can be a good partner, and they ask us to join them in that endeavor,” he said.

FanDuel has no appetite to support a proposition for California sports betting, he said. The sports betting company spent $35 million to support Proposition 27, which was roundly defeated by California voters at the polls in 2022.

The panel agreed that sports betting has no chance at approval this year. When sports betting is eventually considered, do not be surprised if California tribes look to the Seminole Tribe model for sports betting that is currently used in Florida, Daniel Little, chief intergovernmental affairs officer for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, said at the meeting.

A retail sports betting market supported by online sports betting, with servers located on tribal lands, could be appealing in California, he said. Of course this depends on how SCOTUS eventually rules on the Seminole Tribe situation in Florida.

No Outside Interests

The tribes will have full gaming exclusivity for when sports betting is eventually legalized in the state. As for racetracks and card rooms being cut into the action?

No shot, Alejandre said.

Tribal sovereignty is of the utmost importance, he said, and with more than 100 tribes in California it’s even more important to protect.

“We’ll do everything we can to protect our sovereignty. When someone comes in and tries to set up shop, that’s not going to happen,” he said.

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Regulatory Writer and Editor