California Sports Betting Ballot Initiatives for Tribes Lack Support From Tribal Gaming’s CNIGA, Boyd

Proposed California sports betting ballot initiatives filed on Oct. 27 with the California Attorney General’s Office (CAG) resulted in two gaming entities denying involvement. On Oct. 27, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) said it knew nothing about the proposed Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act and the Tribal Gaming Protection Act. On Oct. 28, Boyd Gaming said it “had nothing to do with that filing.”

The significance of these entities denying prior knowledge of the CAG filings is as follows:

  • The proposed California sports betting ballot measures say their purpose is to protect tribal interests. CNIGA represents 52 state tribes in gaming matters and helps its members draft proposed legislation.
  • Because Reeve Collins is listed on the two CAG filings as the ballot initiative spokesman, his history as co-founder and CEO of Pala Interactive may seem relevant. However, Collins is no longer involved with the online gambling brand. Plus, a Boyd spokesman says Boyd isn’t involved with the proposed ballot measure.

Collins exited Pala Interactive before Boyd acquired it in November 2022 for $170 million. The Pala Band of Mission Indians had primarily owned the brand.

Also, that tribe’s chairman, Robert H. Smith, “had been in contact with some tribal leaders,” saying that Pala planned to file a 2024 California sports betting ballot measure, reported Matthew Kredell for PlayUSA. PlayUSA and Bonus are Catena Media brands.

Revisit Quickly or Slowly?

Californians recently voted against legalizing sports betting.

Pala was one of 12 California tribes supporting Prop 26 on the November 2022 ballot. About 70.1% of the Californians who voted on the proposal to allow retail sportsbooks on tribal lands defeated the measure. A second initiative, Prop 27, would have legalized online sports betting. About 83.3% of electors said “no” to that ballot question.

However, Collins and his cohorts decided to try again to offer adults in the 39 million-resident state legal retail and online sports betting.

Meanwhile, Legal Sports Report heard that FanDuel Group may be mending fences with tribal leaders, perhaps discussing eventually offering tech services to tribes for their own online sportsbooks. LSR‘s Mike Mazzeo reported on Sept. 13 that the negotiations may take a few years. LSR and Bonus are Catena Media publications.

California Sports Betting Ballot Initiatives, Sans Tribes

Filing on behalf of tribal gaming makes sense on the surface — all 85 gaming facilities in the nation’s most populous state are tribal casinos. The American Gaming Association (AGA), the gaming industry’s trade association, estimates tribal casinos had a $20 billion economic impact on California in 2023.

One document is the proposed Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act. The other summarizes the Tribal Gaming Protection Act. The filings by Ryan Tyler Walz bear his signature and list Collins as the contact for “the public and the media.”

However, none of the 43 pages filed on Friday with CAG list a tribe’s name.

Plus, CNIGA announced on Friday that no one asked it or its member tribes about the measures.

Hence, CNIGA is “deeply disappointed that the sponsors of the two recently filed initiatives did not first reach out to the State’s largest tribal gaming association for consultation and input.”

The CNIGA statement adds that the association and its member tribes found out about the proposed ballot measures when they were filed with CAG.

CNIGA said on Friday:

Decisions driving the future of tribal governments should be made by tribal governments. While the sponsors of these initiatives may believe they know what is best for tribes, we encourage them to engage with Indian Country and ask, rather than dictate.

CNIGA, Boyd Talk It Out on X

Victor Rocha, “a proud member” of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Temecula, chatted on X with David Strow, Boyd’s vice president of corporate communications.

Rocha founded the North American tribal gaming news site Pechanga.Net, which broke the CNIGA news on Friday.

The editor also opined on X on Saturday:

Strow replied to Rocha on Saturday:

That wasn’t us, Victor. The former Pala Interactive (now Boyd Interactive) had nothing to do with that filing.

Strow told Bonus today:

My statement on X still stands. Neither Boyd nor Boyd Interactive were involved in any way with this filing.

Initiative Filers Claim More News Coming ‘Soon’

Bonus attempted to reach Collins today via email and dialing the Los Angeles area-coded telephone number on the filings.

He didn’t respond.

However, his voicemail greeting today included the following:

Hello. This is Reeve Collins with Eagle 1.

We’re proud to introduce the Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act, as well as the Tribal Gaming Protection Act.

These acts are designed to protect California tribes and California taxpayers who have seen their dollars go to offshore, unregulated gaming sites.

There’ll be a lot more information coming out soon and we’re really looking forward to the process.

Thank you.

In the filings, Collins’ email is sent to Eagle1Corp. In a letter Kredell reports Pala Co-Founder Kasey Thompson distributed to California tribal leaders, the entity is named Eagle 1 Acquisition Company.

That company is a Delaware-based LLC created on Dec. 27, 2022. The Delaware Division of Corporations says its registered agent is Corporation Service Company that’s also based in the First State. Registered agents accept legal documents and mail on behalf of companies and forward the items to the organizations.

Meanwhile, the proposed ballot measures filed on Friday are unlikely to meet deadlines to make it onto the 2024 ballot.

As it is, the filings are far past the Aug. 22 submission for CAG to validate signatures as filers request “a circulating title and summary” and word from the California Secretary of State (CSS) about being included on the November 2024 ballot.

CAG documents show Thursday was when issue proponents could begin campaigning.

So it appears Collins and crew may be more than two months behind.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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