Two Calif. sports betting initiatives led by mystery backers filed with state officials

While California’s Indian tribes would benefit from the two new initiatives, they are speaking out against them early on in the process.

California voters could have another opportunity to approve sports betting in the Golden State following last year’s failed efforts. 

However, California’s Native American tribes – which would see sports betting legalized in their casinos through the new proposals – are steering clear of them as it remains a mystery of who is backing the measures. 


The backstory: Last year voters rejected two competing proposals to legalize sports betting: Proposition 26 and Proposition 27. 

  • Proposition 26, backed by many tribes, would have allowed in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and state-regulated racetracks, as well as given tribal casinos roulette and dice games. Two-thirds of voters rejected Proposition 26. 
  • Proposition 27 – backed by gaming companies like FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as Indian tribes – would have allowed tribes to offer sports betting online, including partnerships with gaming companies. Proposition 27 was even more soundly defeated than Proposition 26 was, with 82 percent of voters rejecting it. 
  • Last year’s propositions saw around $360 million spent in campaigns both in support of and against them. 

The big picture: Last week two proposals were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, the first step in the process to bring initiatives in front of voters. 

  • The initiatives are titled The Tribal Gaming Protection Act and The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act. 
  • The Tribal Gaming Protection Act would allow the Governor to negotiate a gaming compact with tribes for both in-person and online sports betting. 
  • The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act provides a compact model for tribes to use to secure sport betting with the state. 
  • Both initiatives were submitted by Ryan Tyler Walz. It is unclear who or what Walz is associated with. 

The other side: California Indian tribes have not yet been included in these two proposals, with the California Nations Indian Gaming Association – which represents 52 tribes – releasing a statement last week saying the group is deeply disappointed that the sponsors of the initiatives did not reach out for consultation and input. 

  • The association said its member tribes were not aware of the initiatives until they were filed with the Attorney General’s Office. 

What we’re watching: Proponents for both initiatives need to submit at least 874,641 signatures to the state.

What they’re saying: “Decisions driving the future of tribal governments should be made by tribal governments,” the California Nations Indian Gaming Association said in a statement. “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.”

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