December 15, 2020 3 min read


Californian Tribes Racing to Introduce Sports Betting Law in 2022

Californian tribal leaders have submitted a charter with 1.4 million signatures to the state authorities to put sports betting on the ballot in 2022.

Tribes Submit 1.4m Votes Requesting Sports Betting Ballot in 2022

California is drawing closer to a legalized sports betting industry, and then again it isn’t. However, new developments are quite common and now voters could take to the ballots in 2022 and decide once and for all if the state should join the national wave of legalization of the sports gambling segment across the country.

With tribes collecting 1.4 million votes to initiate a vote and submitting it to the state government, this seems more likely than ever. There are numerous reasons why California may opt to go down the legalization path, similar to 26-odd states, six of which voted this November.

A gaping $54 billion deficit compounded by the covid-19 pandemic is making lawmakers more susceptible to exploring alternative revenue venues. Now, tribal leaders are stepping up. Originally, some 20 Californian tribes wanted to canvass for and submit votes to put sports betting on the ballot in 2020, but this failed. Instead, the tribes got an extension to pursue 2022 as a potential voting date.

Tribal Operators Stepping up to Introduce Sports Gambling

While efforts so far have failed through, tribal leaders remain confident that the legalization of sports betting is inevitable in the Golden State. The untapped potential of California could amount to $1.4 billion placed in sports bet in just the first year of operation, factoring in both retail and online betting opportunities.

By 2027, the total sports betting handle could increase to $3 billion annually, estimates Deutsch Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli who is confident the state will benefit from this move. However, the tribes are not in the sharing business it seems.

We Did the Work, We Get the Benefits

Californian tribes have put down several noteworthy items on the ballot question, which would effectively prohibit the state’s casinos to be part of the activity. Tribes and state poker rooms have already had run-ins over player-banked games, which the tribes saw as a work-out to illegal activity.

Now the tribes want to keep the activity beyond the reach of casinos that they see as facilitators of illegal poker games and other gaming segments that ought to be the tribe’s exclusive right, potentially syphoning off funds from tribal operators.

Another issue is that not all tribal leaders are convinced that going with mobile betting is the best course of action. Santarelli commented said that “there is a divide amongst tribal leaders on the topic of mobile, with some wanting it now and some not wanting it at all, given the influence it could potentially have on the balance of power amongst the tribes.”

In the meantime, Californian lawmakers have been able to put up their own sports betting bill sponsored by Northern California State Sen. Bill Dodd who will bring up the bill once again in 2021. There is a lot happening with tribes in the state.

Most recently, Southern California’s tribal casinos said they would continue to operate despite stay-at-home orders, drawing some criticism from the general public. California along with Florida and Texas are the most populous states in the country that do not sanction sports betting.

Lead Editor

Mike made his mark on the industry at a young age as a consultant to companies that would grow to become regulators. Now he dedicates his weekdays to his new project a the lead editor of, aiming to educate the masses on the latest developments in the gambling circuit.

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