Can California Tribes Legalize Sports Betting

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2020 has seen multiple states pass legalized sports betting to help bring additional revenue is due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even more interesting is that some states have yet to pass legalized sports betting, yet sports are betting in the state.

How could this be?

Tribal groups who run casinos in states have found a loophole around legal sports betting at their casinos even if the state has no sports betting regulations. Tribal casinos run under federal gaming laws designed specifically for the tribes.

This has opened up an interesting discussion on whether or not tribal groups across the U.S. would be able to allow sports betting to take place despite the state saying no to sports gambling. California has the largest tribal gaming industry in the U.S. and has a stronghold on the industry and the state.

If California tribes try to take advantage of this idea, could it change the sports betting landscape in the U.S.

How is this Even Possible?

This comes down to how tribal groups run their casinos compared to how states run their commercial casinos. Overall, tribal groups have Class I, II, and III gaming regulations, which allows them to operate different types of games at the casinos.

Class I is regulations around social gaming like bingo, where Class II deals with more table games.

However, Class III goes into a bit more detail about gaming allowed at tribal casinos, which has now involved sports betting. This is where tribes have been able to take advantage of sports betting at the casinos despite the states saying no to it.

New Mexico, Oklahoma, and now Wyoming have all decided to launch sports betting operations at tribal casinos as the state has no regulations around sports betting. New Mexico tribal groups have turned sports betting into a full-blown industry. The state Supreme Court sued Oklahoma tribal groups, and Wyoming’s Northern Arapaho tribe announced the launch of sports betting at its casinos.

So far, one good, one bad, and one wait and see.

The idea on paper sounds great and could be a way for more states to get involved with sports betting, even if it is only in-person through the tribes.

In Wyoming, the Northern Arapaho Tribe stated in a press release why they could conduct sports betting without state approval or regulations. “The Northern Arapaho Tribe conducts gaming under the authorization of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and does not require state approval for sports betting.”

This could be a blueprint to how sports betting can come to tribal groups.

So What About California?

California gaming is the largest industry in the state and has become a multi-billion industry, thanks to regulations greatly favoring tribal gaming groups. The state has gone back and forth about a sports betting bill, but the tribes have had great pushback since they want a law that would only favor them with sports betting.

Now, California tribes could view Wyoming and New Mexico to bring sports betting to California even as the state fights over how the industry should be set up and regulated.

If California tribes state that they are allowed to legalize sports betting at their casinos due to gaming under the U.S. Department of Interior, then it might be able to work out.

There is the chance that California tribal sports betting ends up like Oklahoma in a legal battle, but there is a chance California sports betting could come without state regulations.

If this longshot happens, then this could change the U.S. sports betting landscape.