California’s sports betting industry is in for another tumultuous battle as a new ballot measure has appeared, upsetting the industry. Victor Rocha, a prominent figure in the Indian Gaming Association, spoke with Brendan Bussmann and Robin Harrison of’s World Series of Politics about the impending sports betting debate in California.

Rocha expressed his dismay at the new ballot measure, stating that it seeks to create division between gaming and non-gaming tribes in California. He described the amendments to the measure as “smoke and mirrors,” suggesting that the proponents are not truly interested in listening to the concerns of the tribes. Rocha emphasized that the tribal perspective on sports betting is driven by a desire for a slow and thoughtful approach to implementation, particularly with regards to mobile betting. He argued that a cautious approach is necessary to ensure a safe and sustainable market.

The new ballot measure has thrown a wrench into the plans of the tribes, who had been preparing for a renewed push in 2026. Rocha warned that another ballot battle could significantly delay the introduction of sports betting in California. He also pushed back against the perception that tribes are obstructing progress, asserting that they have a strategic plan in place for sports betting and are in tune with the needs of the state.

Rocha’s message to the commercial industry was clear: “Shut up, get in the back seat, let us drive.” His remarks underscore the intense battle that lies ahead for California’s sports betting industry as tribes and other stakeholders prepare for a protracted and contentious debate over the future of gambling in the state.

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