With the only qualified ballot initiative to legalize sports betting in California facing legal challenges, a second proposal backed by major online sportsbooks is on track to qualify for the November 8 general election as well.
According to California's Secretary of State’s website, the “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act,” a sports betting ballot initiative to legalize California online and retail sports betting, is the only sports betting campaign currently in circulation to reach the 25% signature threshold. "We hit that threshold months ago, and we continue to make steady progress toward our goal. We are very much on track to qualify,” Nathan Click, spokesperson for the campaign, told Sports Betting Dime.
The initiative needs a total of 997,139 verified voter signatures to appear on the 2022 ballot. Backed by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Fanatics Betting and Gaming, Bally’s Interactive, WynnBET and Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sportsbook through a $100 million contribution, the campaign is in the process of collecting the remaining necessary verified signatures to place the initiative on the general election ballot. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins also provided an update on the ballot initiative during his recent DraftKings investor day presentation, and said the campaign has exceeded its signature goal for the last eight weeks.
If approved by voters in November, the measure would allow qualified sportsbook operators to partner with California Tribal Nations to operate online sports betting in the state. Also, it would allocate 85% of revenue to the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Account, which will help combat homelessness and mental health issues in the state. The additional 15% of revenue will be allocated to the Tribal Economic Development Account, which will provide economic development and assistance to tribes in the state who do not participate in the online sports betting program.
Analysts are predicting more than $200 million will be spent to sway the public to allow sports betting in some form. Ballotpedia lists the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria as having spent $1.85 million supporting the initiative that has qualified for the ballot.
The only measure to qualify so far is promoted by nine 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. On Monday, two California cardrooms —Hollywood Park Casino and Parkwest Casino Cordova— announced they have filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court as their second legal attempt to prevent the initiative from going to the voters, after the state's Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The initiative, named "California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act", would also allow roulette and craps at tribal casinos, and grant one-way permission for tribal casinos to sue their cardroom competitors. Top supporters of the initiative include the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Riverside, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation near Sacramento, and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria in Sonoma County.
A third 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.
There is also a fourth initiative, presented last November by the San Manuel Band, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and Wilton Rancheria, which 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. In January, it was cleared to begin collecting petition signatures for the November 2022 ballot.
California's sports betting legalization, called to be the next big market in the US, would be supported by 45% of voters, while more than 1 in 5 claims to be undecided, according to a new poll released late Febraury by the University of California's Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies in collaboration with the Los Angeles Times.