July 3, 2020 4 min read


Californian Tribes Win Waiver to Start Sports Betting Referendum

After launching court proceedings on June 9, a coalition of Native American tribes in California will have until October 12 to put a sports betting constitutional amendment up for vote on the 2022 ballot.

Tribes Request and Get Extension on Sports Betting Signature Process

California’s tribes continue to push for a sports betting solution to be introduced to the November ballot for state residents to vote on. A state Superior Court judge gave the tribal coalition pushing the measure an extension to collect enough signature, pushing back the deadline from July 20 to October 12, and most likely guaranteeing that the question will appear on the 2022 ballot.

The Coalition to Authorize Sports Wagering numbers 25 California Native American tribes who insisted on continuing with the measure and pointing out that had it not been for the COVID-19 outbreak, they would have most likely met the July deadline.

Following the stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Gavin Newson issued in March, the coalition’s ability to canvass neighborhoods and regions in person has been diminished to the point where the number of signees dropped dramatically.

Reeling from the setback, the coalition decided to press on legally against the state, asking for an extension on June 9. The California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act’s objective is to make sports betting on tribal premises a regulated and legal activity that can kick in after a ballot vote.

The tribes are looking at a rather extended schedule, too, as the 1.1 million signatures needed won’t usher in sports betting regulation this year, but rather place the matter on the ballot in 2022.

Can the Tribes Make the 1.1M Signatures Mark?

The tribes aren’t rushing their plan, taking due time instead. While some tribes would have wanted to see the measure put up for a vote this year, the difficulties of raising awareness for the proposed change would have made that difficult.

Instead, the coalition will rely on the most feasible voting solution, deferring the matter to 2022. They have to collect 1.1 million signatures by October now. To introduce sports betting, the tribes would need to enact a constitutional change which is a matter of public opinion or referendum.

According to California’s constitution, a referendum to introduce amendments is only possible when 8% of the population has agreed to it. This means that the tribe needs over 970,000 signatures by law. The 1.1 million target is a contingency measure introduced by the tribes and set to account for possible invalidated votes and to leave the tribe enough leeway to meet the state target no matter what.

Are Tribes in Too Much Power of Sports Betting Already?

The tribes are openly trying to concentrate too much exclusivity where sports betting is concerned in their own hands. Should their proposed measure be approved by voters, they would be able to offer sports betting on tribal land and legalize horse racing betting in the state.

On the flipside, all mobile betting would be suspended. The tribes propose a 10% tax on race track operations, but not sports betting as it seems. There is no demand to tie-up partnerships with leagues and tap into their data to offer odds and lines either.

Going on the offensive, tribes want to be able to enact legal proceedings against private card rooms which they consider illegal, but the state is uncertain about, as the card room’s model relies on player-banked games.

The tribes balked at Senator Bill Dodd and Representative Adam Gray’s proposed betting bill which would make sports betting legal in the state with some specificity to online betting. All tribal operators would need to be taxed up to 15% of their gross gaming revenue, too, which more or less puts the legislation on par with other similar moves across the United States.

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 GamblingNews.com, aiming to educate the masses on the latest developments in the gambling circuit.

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