Petitioners for California Sports Betting Initiative Not Giving Up Despite Lack of Tribal Support 

profile image of marcomarin
The downtown skyline stands with the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains visible beyond on January 31, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP Photo/Image used with illustrative purposes.

California is the biggest unclaimed sports betting market in the nation but thus far, all efforts to regulate mobile and retail sportsbooks have gone for naught. But there is another push currently underway that is trying to gain the support of the state’s tribal nations, yet many obstacles still stand in the way.

Poor First Impression

Poker pro Kasey Thompson, and blockchain executive Reeve Collins, are the primary movers and shakers on getting a tribal-backed California sports betting initiative in front of the voters. And despite trying desperately to rally the tribal leaders around a common cause, their efforts have been decried by the tribes themselves.

However, they remain undeterred and have repeatedly stated they will not go forward unless they have the support of at least 56 of the 109 tribes in the Golden State. After Thompson and Collins filed the paperwork with the state, taking the first step towards trying to get the question of sports betting on next year’s ballot, Thompson then made his pitch to the tribal leaders. It did not go over well as evidenced by their reactions.

A Struggle for Consensus

“The entire effort surrounding these initiatives was handled abhorrently by the initiative sponsors,” said in a statement James Siva, Chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “It is hard not to be offended when listening to these individuals speak. This is another example of outside influences trying to divide and conquer Indian tribes. We will not let history repeat itself.”

“His pitch was kind of an over-energetic mixture of rambling and overhyping himself, talking about all the things they’ve done in the past, all the funds they have available, but never laying out the exact details of these are our backers, these are the people we’ve put together. He was just saying we have all this while spouting out I don’t know how many words a minute,” Siva added.

Bloodied But Unbowed

After getting their proposal voted down by the tribes, 18-0, the duo has not lost any of their resolve. They have fielded objections from the tribes and have vowed to eliminate any concerns and integrate into the proposal any stipulations that the stakeholders deem important.

Thompson, and his Eagle 1 Acquisition Company, have committed to spending upwards of $25 million to get the required signatures on the petition by the December 1st deadline.

“Eagle 1 will bear the entire cost of getting the proposition on the ballot and passed,” Thompson said. “There will be no cost to the tribes. This includes the signature campaign and public vote, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Thompson’s Pledge

As for how he plans to assuage the tribal leaders’ incredulity after his initial meeting, Thompson believes it is possible as long as he honors their wishes and does right by them.

“As tribes are finding out, the delivery was accidental, it wasn’t supposed to be like that,” Thompson said. “We acknowledge our process was not orchestrated as well as it should have been. However, we have been working with the tribes for the last 18 months and had to move forward quickly to protect the signature-gathering time. We apologize to the tribes for our missteps and are working diligently to get this initiative to a place that everyone can get behind.”

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and update our readers as events unfold.