Another sports betting initiative to legalize sports betting in California has been suspended following the failure of the 2022 ballot. Kasey Thompson, the initiative spokesman, blames the opposition from California gaming tribes for the failure to launch the ballot initiative. There was no support for the initiative as the tribes did not join it. Thompson said, “This initiative was supposed to be for the tribes but is only causing division. That was never my intent. I see now the needed unity is not coming, and so I’m standing good to my word and not moving forward. I’m pulling it in full.” Thompson also indicated that without tribal support, it was impossible to proceed with collecting signatures and meet the submission deadline for the ballot considerations by the competent state authorities. He had hired a Californian firm to collect and print 1.2 million petitioner’s signatures as requested for a ballot, but failed to convince the tribes to join the initiative.
Thompson didn’t have a single signature printed but instead set up the ballot measure committee and waited for the tribes to join and propel the campaign. He confirmed that he didn’t want to set up a firm to start collecting signatures as it would cost him $5 million. As a result, none of the tribes gave public support to the initiative. Thompson acknowledged that he made a mistake for not referring to tribes at an earlier stage of the process. He indicated an interest in working with the tribes in the future.
This experience left a negative impact on the relationships between Thompson, the tribes, and other partners. Thompson and Reeve Collins, co-founders of Pala Interactive, offered the tribes the prospect to acquire the title of offshore gaming assets in the state. However, tribal leaders refused to have their good reputation used to clean illegal gaming apps. The initiative also requested a constitutional amendment to secure the tribal exclusive right over sports betting but California’s biggest tribes kept their earlier standpoint that they would not go for such initiative in 2024.
Looking into the future, it seems that the tribes should be the ones to propose a ballot on sports betting in California, with such a proposal seemingly feasible in either 2026 or 2028. There might be an opportunity for the tribes to repair their relationships with Thompson in working together to achieve a common goal.