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Two sports betting initiatives have been filed in California that would grant the state’s gaming tribes a monopoly on in-person and online sports betting. 

If passed, the measures would clear the path for online sports betting in the most populous state in the union by amending the state constitution. 

The first measure, The Tribal Gaming Protection Act, would allow the governor to enter into gaming compacts with federally recognised tribes to authorise online sports wagering. 

This is often known as the “hub-and-spoke” model.

There is some doubt about the legality of this approach, however. Recently, the Seminoles Tribe’s gaming compact with Florida has faced multiple legal challenges, most recently in the US Supreme Court. 

The Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act, which is the second ballot initiative, prohibits non-tribal entities from offering sports wagering. 

The Tribal Gaming Protection Act would also bar the tribes from licensing the brands of US sports betting operators. Instead, they will be required to operate under their federally recognised name or that of an owned brand. 

Tribes would pay 15% of their gross gaming revenue to the Tribal Sports Wagering Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, which splits revenue with non-gaming tribes. Another 10% would be directed to the CA Homeless and Mental Health Fund.

Tribes blast California ballot measures 

However, despite granting the tribes state-wide exclusivity, the measures have received a largely negative reaction from California’s tribal gaming lobby.

In a statement, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) said it was “deeply disappointed” the sponsors of the ballot initiatives did not reach out to the organisation for consultation or input. 

“Instead, CNIGA and our member tribes were alerted to their existence when they were filed with the Attorney General today,” it added. 

“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.”

The identity of the organisation behind the initiatives, which were filed with the state’s Office of the Attorney General, has not been made public. 

However, an individual named Ryan Tyler Walz signed both ballot measures. Walz is not widely considered to be a well-known figure in the US gaming industry.

The measures also list Reeve Collins as the media contact, the co-founder and former CEO of real money and social gaming technology provider Pala Interactive.  

The ballot measures mark just the latest attempt to legalise online sports betting in the Golden State. 

Last November, California voted on two duelling ballot initiatives.

The measures, which pitted state gaming interests against a coalition of US sports betting operators, were ultimately overwhelmingly rejected by voters. 

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