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California Sports Betting Ballot Likely Set for November Election

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

May 18, 2022 · 9:49 AM PDT

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  • Two California sports betting ballot initiatives will be on the November general election ballot
  • One initiative could legalize retail sports betting at tribal casinos, the second could legalize online sports betting
  • A California tribal-controlled online sports betting initiative will be delayed until 2024

The November general election will likely include two California sports betting ballot initiatives for state voters to consider, but a third tribal-controlled online sports betting measure will have to wait until 2024.

Representatives for a California tribal-controlled online sports betting measure confirmed that the campaign will no longer attempt to be placed on the November general election ballot. Rob Stutzman, president of Stutzman Public Affairs, said the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Wilton Rancheria, and Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians ballot initiative to legalize online sports betting for only California tribes will be put on hold until 2024.

Tribal Online Sports Betting Initiative in 2024?

Signatures for the initiative will continue to be collected through July, Stutzman said, with the intent to qualify for the 2024 election ballot.

“We feel confident in a two step strategy that focuses on defeating the out of state corporate measure in ’22, which we are seeing begin to collapse in our polling, and then follow up in ’24 with a measure that is a better deal for the state and keeps the Tribes as the gaming operator in state, protecting their sovereignty and protecting California jobs,” Stutzman told Sports Betting Dime.

The ballot measure eclipsed the 25% signature threshold in March, but may have had a difficult time acquiring the remaining signatures necessary for placement on the 2022 ballot.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Wilton Rancheria, and Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians will likely now focus their efforts on their $100 million campaign to defeat the corporate online sports betting measure. The campaign has already started running television advertisements throughout the state opposing the measure.

California Sports Betting Ballot Set

With the withdrawal of the tribal online sports betting measure, California voters will now see only two sports betting initiatives on the November general election ballot.

The Tribal Sports Wagering Act,  which will legalize retail sports betting at tribal casinos and state racetracks if approved, procured the necessary signatures to appear on the 2022 ballot last year. The initiative also seeks legalize dice games and roulette at tribal casinos.

California Tribal representatives are firmly in support of this initiative, preferring to keep the future sports betting in the hands of California tribes.

The second initiative seeks to legalize California online sports betting, with national online sports betting operators partnering with California tribal casinos to do so.

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 “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act,” recently submitted over 1.6 million signatures to the California Secretary of State for verification.

The signatures will need to be verified by June 30, but the initiative is expected to have the 1,096,853 valid signatures to qualify for the upcoming election ballot.

If approved by voters in November, the act would allow qualified sportsbook operators to partner with California Tribal Nations to operate online sports betting in the state.

The initiative allocates 85% of the sports betting tax revenues collected for 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. There are 104 federally recognized tribes in California.

The bill calls for a 10% tax on gross gaming revenues in the state.

Both Initiatives Can Be Approved

The sports betting initiatives are not in direct competition with each other on the ballot. Language in the online sports betting initiative clearly states that if both receive a majority of “yes” votes from Californians, both will be legal.

However, it’s unlikely that the tribal coalition would be pleased with this arrangement moving forward. When asked for comment on both initiatives potentially being approved, Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming, a campaign backing the Tribal Sports Wagering Act, said the tribes would not be “engaging in hypotheticals.”

“We’re seeing voter support for the corporate online measure plummet. We are very confident it won’t pass,” she told Sports Betting Dime.

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