Four Tribes Propose Launching Sports Betting in California

California may soon see its own sports betting market as four tribal operators in the state have just introduced a new ballot measure by the name Age Verified Tribal Online and In-Person Sports Wagering and Homelessness Solutions Act.

The Changes Envisioned by the Act

The act is currently backed by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Wilton Rancheria. As evidenced by its name, the ballot measure envisions launching both retail and online tribally-regulated sports betting in California.

In the tribes’ words, launching sports betting in the state may yield hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Some of it will be donated to charities, helping to solve some of the social problems in California.

The four tribes behind the act propose using a part of the sports betting proceeds to address the rampant issues with mass homelessness and mental health disorders in the state. According to the ballot measure, they will dedicate as much as 10% of the adjusted sports betting gross revenue to the California Homelessness and Mental Fund. Another 10% will be donated to the Tribal Social Wagering Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.

Yet Another Push for Legalizing Sports Betting

This isn’t the first time tribal bodies have appealed for the legalization of sports betting in California. In late 2019, 18 tribes tried to push for sports betting at tribal casinos and state racetracks. It received mixed responses but was eventually granted an extension to its signature-collecting period. Still, the proposal never appeared on the election ballot.

In September 2021, non-tribal bookmakers, including BetMGM, FanDuel, Wynn Interactive, Penn National Gaming, Fanatics, DraftKings, and Bally’s, also appealed for the launch of sports betting in California. They made a very similar proposal to the one right now, promising to offer a portion of their revenues for helping the homeless and those suffering from mental conditions.

Back to the present, the current ballot measure by the four tribes will need to be signed by 8% of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial election (almost a million) before getting to the election ballot, since it is an act that would fundamentally affect California’s constitution. If the gambling supporters manage to get this many signatures, the proposal will appear on the ballot in November 2022. Should it pass, the Californian sports gambling market may see its launch in September 2023.

Even if Californians vote in favor of legalizing sports gambling, it would be at least two years before the market’s launch. The United States has progressively warmed up towards the idea of sports betting, with numerous states launching their own markets. Even in states as conservative as Georgia, there are efforts being made.

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