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Sports Betting Initiative Makes It onto the California Ballot

July 2, 2022

It would be an understatement to say that the U.S.’ top sports betting operators want access to the sports betting market in California. Aside from New York, gambling industry experts have made clear that California might well be the most lucrative online gambling market in the country.

Well, sports gamblers in the U.S. got good news when it was announced that the California Solutions to Homelessness & Mental Health Support Act officially qualified to be on the California ballot in November of 2022. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber made the announcement while also clarifying that the ballot initiative acquired more than 1,096,583 valid signatures, the minimum required number. Weber is expected to officially certify the initiative on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

It's worth mentioning that Californians will now have two sports betting initiatives from which to choose. The first initiative to be certified was the Tribal Sports Wagering Act, which seeks to give the state’s Indian Tribes the exclusive rights to offer retail (in-person) sports betting options to residents.

About the Homelessness & Mental Health Support Act

While the Tribal Sports Wagering Act focuses solely on offering retail sports betting options, the Homelessness & Mental Health Support Act would lay the framework solely for online/mobile sports betting under the control of top online sports betting operators like DraftKings, Fanduel, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook.

To clarify, the title “Homelessness & Mental Health Support Act” does have significance within the bill. Under the terms of the bill, licensed sports betting operators would be required to taxes on gross sports betting revenue to the tune of 10%. Of that tax revenue, 85%, would go to support mental healthcare initiatives and also provide homing solutions for homelessness. The other 15% of the tax revenue would go to the state’s Indian Tribes in a revenue-sharing scheme. Clearly, the 15% was an offering to appease the concerns of Tribe leadership.

Given that each initiative is directed at a different form of sports gambling, there is a possibility both initiatives could pass. Effectively, that would allow California sports bettors to choose the sports betting option that best suits their needs. For that and other reasons, the Homelessness & Mental Health Support Act faces significant opposition, heading into the mid-term elections. Some of that opposition is coming from the Tribal Nation, which seems intent on submitting its own online/mobile sports betting legislation during the election cycle in 2024.

The primary source of opposition will be coming from a group called the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming, which exists under the control of the combined forces of law enforcement members, Calif. business leaders, and tribal casino operators.

According to Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez, the group maintains this position:

“The Corporate Online Gambling Proposition would legalize online and mobile sports gambling – turning virtually every cell phone, laptop, tablet, and gaming console into a gambling device, increasing the risks of underage and problem gambling,” later adding “We will run a vigorous campaign against this measure and are confident the voters will see through the deceptive promises being made by these out-of-state gambling corporations.”

 


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