Fourth proposal

California sports betting: San Manuel-backed ballot initiative cleared to gather signatures

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is led by Chair Kenneth Ramirez (center).
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California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber announced Monday that the proponents of the state's fourth sports betting initiative, backed by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and other three tribes, were cleared to begin collecting petition signatures for the November 2022 ballot in California.

The California Attorney General is preparing the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions, as reported by KVML. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General will forward it to the proponents and to the Secretary of State, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures.

This tribal initiative, presented last November by the San Manuel Band, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and Wilton Rancheria, seeks to give tribes exclusive rights for operating both in-person sports betting on tribal lands and online gambling statewide. It also promises funds to solve California’s homeless struggles as it would send 85% of tax revenue per year toward helping people secure housing. 

The proposal seeks to protect “tribal gaming exclusivity” and promote tribal sovereignty. It further calls to provide benefits for limited gaming and non-gaming tribes, and it also claims to provide benefits for the state in “an IGRA-governed environment for sports wagering.” The proposal would require 10% of gross gaming revenue to be funneled to the state’s Homelessness and Mental Health Fund. Another 10% would be designated for the Tribal Sports Wagering Revenue Sharing Fund. It is anticipated that this would increase tax revenue to the state of California by tens of millions of dollars.

The proponents of the measure, Bo Mazzetti (tribal chairman for the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians), Jesus Tarango (Chairman and CEO of Wilton Rancheria), and Kenneth Ramirez (San Manuel Band Chairman), must collect signatures of 997,139 registered voters by June 2022 in order for the measure to become eligible for the ballot.

The only measure to qualify so far is backed by four state's tribes, and it would only permit in-person wagering at tribal casinos and four horse racing tracks with 70% of the tax revenues earmarked to the state’s general fund, but does not include online verticals. A second initiative is supported by the mayors of San Jose, Colma, Inglewood and Gardena alongside major cardroom operators, and would legalize online and in-person sports betting while also permitting licensed cardrooms to offer additional card and tile games currently limited to tribal casinos. The other one, backed by DraftKings, FanDuel and other national operators, would legalize online betting in partnership with tribal casinos that meet certain requirements while directing 85% of tax revenues to homelessness programs. It has gained the support of Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and the mayors of Sacramento, Oakland and Long Beach. These two last proposals are still gathering signatures.