California Tribes Launch Ad Campaign Against Online Sports Betting Initiative

Spread the Word:

What appears to be the first major attack in the pitched battle for California sports betting, three state tribes launched Tuesday a TV ad campaign against the operator-led mobile sports betting initiative in the state.

The 30-second ad spot mentions FanDuel and DraftKings as out-of-state companies seeking to “break the promise” of tribal sovereignty over California sports betting.

It comes after tribes won a ballot initiative last May that would allow sports betting at the tribal casinos after more than one million signatures were confirmed by the officials across the state.

The measure is likely to appear on ballots later this year in November after a June deadline qualifies it for the ballot.

The tribal-backed move would limit sports betting to retail offerings already qualified for the 2022 election.

What’s the Content of the ad?

The ad that also runs across digital channels says:

“When voters granted our sovereign nations exclusive gaming rights, it promoted self-sufficiency and created lots of good jobs,” the ad depicts.

“But now, out-of-state companies are coming to California. Their digital sports betting initiative would break the promise between us. It’s bad for Tribes and all Californians.”

Who’s Leading the Fight Against the Giant Operators?

Three leading Native American tribes in the Golden State joined in funding at least $100 million into an expensive battle – the battle for California sports betting. The two opposing sides are the tribal governments and multinational gaming operators, vying for one of the nation’s largest untapped sports betting markets.

The ad is funded by – Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming – a group formed in February. The three tribes that back this group are:

  1. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
  2. The Rincon Band of Luisueno Indians
  3. Wilton Rancheria

What Do California Tribes Say?

The tribal coalition has pledged to spend $100 million to keep the multinational operators at bay. It is the same amount that the operators had planned to spend on the initiative.

But according to tribal initiative spokesman Roger Salazar, no $100 million ‘Vote No’ campaign had ever failed in California before.

Salazar said the Californians would see the multimillion-dollar ad on their favorite news stations and networks across the state. He added that the tribal coalition to protect its sovereignty has the resources to share the facts about the flawed measure with every single Californian.

The three prominent tribal governments that spearheaded the fight last month said they would spend the money to defeat “a move by out-of-state interest groups to corner the state’s betting market.”

California Mobile Sports Betting Initiative on Track

Despite the tribal opposition, operators appear confident about their initiative announced last August by the nation’s three largest operators – FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM. The three sportsbooks had joined to take the lead on running a parallel referendum on a Nov. 2022 ballot.

Earlier this month, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said the operator initiative was “doing great against its target.” The initiative requires just under one million signatures to make it to the ballot later this year.

Robins said that they’d been ahead of our weekly goals, hoping that they were going to get there.

If enough signatures are collected to place it before voters, the initiative would be the third on the mid-term ballot. A tribal initiative is the only one that has been approved to be offered so far. If passed, the tribes-backed initiative would allow retail betting only at tribal casinos and four horse racetracks.

Last August, a group of cities in California also filed an initiative seeking to legalize statewide mobile betting.

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