California Tribes Upset Over Sports Betting Bills, File New Lawsuit

American Indian Tribes In The Golden State Are Not Backing Down

Several Indian tribes in California that have a firm lock on gambling in the state have been circulating a petition. The tribes hired professional petition circulators to gather signatures so they could put their own sports betting bill on the ballot in November.

That effort was stopped in its tracks in March, as the pandemic shut down public gatherings. There are currently two sports betting bills making their way through the California legislature.

Tribal officials have been locked in a battle with California lawmakers over these bills. There have been caustic accusations from both sides of the argument being thrown around for the last year.

A group has organized in the last month to represent more than 25 different Native American tribes in the state. The group, The Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering (CARSW), has been having regular virtual meetings to organize and structure a strategy going forward.

Tribes Want To Shelve The Two Sports Betting Bills

A spokesperson for CARSW said the lawsuit has been in the works for a while, but certain elements had to be fine-tuned before it could be filed. Detractors of the tribes said on Saturday, “This is just sour grapes. They are angry that there is even a tiny chance that others can get in on the lucrative sports betting market.”

That is the crux of the disagreement, as the tribes want to maintain control over gaming and sports betting, which is set to become law in early 2021. The sports betting bills sponsored by California lawmakers passed the Senate last week with a vote of 9-3.

Those that oppose the tribes’ ability to lock out everyone else from benefiting from sports betting say the reason for their lawsuit is fear. The claims being made by the opposing side are that the tribes are fearful that they may lose their monopoly on gambling in the state.

Sponsor Of One Sports Betting Bill Says It’s A Matter Of Fairness

The sports betting bill from Senator Bill Dodd that passed the California Senate last week does have some wiggle room for others to enter into the industry. That is the main source of contention for the tribes, as they believe everything that has to do with gambling in the state should remain in their hands.

The signatures the tribes were collecting for their own sports betting bill were forced to stop operations in March. The tribes must have at least one million signatures of registered voters before their sports betting bill can be placed on the November ballot.

The lawsuit filed by the coalition is asking for a 90-day extension on the time limit for gathering the signatures. Due to shelter-in-place orders, legal experts expect the tribes to be successful with their lawsuit.

A source said, “It’s just logical that they be given more time to collect signatures due to the months they couldn’t be out in public.” A decision on the tribe’s lawsuit is expected to be handed down this week in Sacramento.

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