California must resist out-of-state sports betting operators – Capitol Weekly

Since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize sports wagering, a majority of states have legalized some form of betting on sports.  This year, California voters could be asked to decide among multiple options for legalizing sports wagering. As tribal leaders who have honored decades of trust created with California voters, it’s important for voters to understand what’s at stake.
Today, California’s sports betting market potential is attracting out-of-state operators like the Gold Rush days of the mid-1800s.
Today, tribal casinos generate $23 billion of economic activity in California, including nearly 200,000 jobs for Californians…
Opportunists are flocking to the Golden State to serve their self-interests with a proposal that requires abandoning the honored relationship between tribal governments and the state that has worked so well for more than two decades. We Californians must consider how we would implement legalized sports betting responsibly.

Since 2000, tribal governments in partnership with the state of California have invested time and resources to establish a strong and effective regulatory environment that provides for a safe and fair gaming environment for our guests.
Our commitment to sharing the benefits of tribal gaming stems from our indigenous values that have served us well since our creation. We continue to demonstrate that we are vested in the future prosperity of California and the local jurisdictions that surround our reservation lands.
Today, tribal casinos generate $23 billion of economic activity in California, including nearly 200,000 jobs for Californians and $80 million per year to infrastructure and local communities.
Since 2003, San Manuel contributed over $300 million to nonprofits and community infrastructure needs — fire, police, medical, education, healthcare, social services, and homelessness.
As part of its Sky River Casino project, Wilton Rancheria will invest $186 million over 20 years in police, fire, schools, parks, roads and other vital services in the City of Elk Grove and Sacramento County.
The Rincon Tribe prides themselves on helping communities throughout San Diego County through investments that support diverse organizations and charities providing comprehensive healthcare, preserving San Diego’s resources and assisting military veterans. Rincon has generated millions of dollars in total economic output, supporting nearly 3,500 jobs and providing millions in state tax revenue.
Allowing out-of-state corporate operators to gain a foothold in the California marketplace will do immense harm to our trusted and balanced gaming environment. There is a far better path forward for all Californians to enjoy the benefits of responsible online sports betting while preserving the promise and partnership of the tribal/state gaming compacts.
We believe any future sports wagering measure should contain these core principles:
–California’s Native American tribes should operate sports wagering based on a proven, 20-year track record of successful operations and effective regulation.
–Online sports betting revenue must be shared with our state to fight homelessness and with tribes that lack significant gaming revenue. Many tribes are remotely located where operating casinos is economically impractical. A revenue fund will share sports wagering revenues with the tribes that do not operate casinos to fight poverty on their reservations.  The corporate operators’ initiative proposes a tiny share for our state, with the remaining 90% quickly shipped out-of-state.  That is a bad deal for California.
–We also believe that any future online sports wagering measure must prevent underage betting on smartphones or computers. Any future online sports betting system must require in-person registration with reliable age-verification at tribal facilities.  The proposed initiative from the corporate operators completely lacks these vital protections against underage betting.
For decades, tribal sovereignty and gaming exclusivity have enabled tribes and communities to build back and sustain themselves. We urge voters to consider the consequences and say “NO” to out-of-state operators.
This is a question of Main Street versus Wall Street. Only such a “California First” approach will bring our state the full benefits of online sports betting, a fair share of new revenue and a safe and well-run California-based sports wagering marketplace.

Editor’s Note: Bo Mazzetti is the chairman of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Ken Ramirez is the chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Jesus Tarango is the chairman of the Wilton Rancheria.
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