California Cities File Sports Betting Measure for 2022 Ballot

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Multiple cities in California have joined in a move that will bring sports betting through most of the stakeholders under a new ballot initiative.

On Thursday, California cities submitted the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act to expand gambling options for the state by authorizing sports betting. The measure – led by Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda – was sent to the state Attorney General’s office, and appeared on the AG website the same day.

The Golden State’s gaming industry includes various stakeholders, including Native American tribes, card rooms, and race tracks. All of these competing entities, including professional sports teams, would be able to offer retail and online sports betting in California under the new ballot initiative.

If approved, the new initiative would appear in the Nov. 2022 ballot.

But legalizing sports betting in California is a complicated issue as the gaming tribes want to have exclusive control over the state’s industry. A tribal proposal – that includes retail-only sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racing tracks – is already on the ballot.

What Are the Next Steps?

Now, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and his office will consider the initiative before the supporters of the measure can start collecting signatures to qualify for the Nov. 2022 statewide ballot.

Four cities – Gardena, San Jose, Inglewood, and Colma – have joined the legalizing effort. More cities will reportedly follow once the initiative is announced.

According to the state election law, supporters are required to submit 997,139 valid signatures before it appears on the Nov. 2022 general election ballot. The California cities must secure the required number of signatures by April 2022.

The new initiative comes at a critical juncture when neighboring Arizona is preparing to launch sports betting to embrace NFL season.

What Changes Does the New Initiative Seek?

The California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act seeks to amend the state constitution. It would also allow professional sports teams/leagues to have sportsbooks inside their venues.

The new initiative would tether sportsbook licenses to brick-and-mortar operations.

In addition to every tribal casino, card room, and horse racing track, the Golden State’s 19 professional sports teams would also secure licenses.

Each licensee would have to pay $5 million for an initial fee, and $1 million every other year for renewal. The state would levy sports betting revenue at 25%, and another 1% would be due annually toward problem gambling.

The California cities-led sports betting initiative would allow wagering on amateur, collegiate, and professional sports. Anything on high school or betting on potential injuries would be banned.

But California tribes oppose the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act, according to Vixio Gambling Compliance.

Why California Tribes Oppose the New Initiative?

Gaming tribes in California want exclusive control over sports betting. An initiative from the state’s Indian tribes to legalize retail sportsbooks at their venues, and state-licensed race tracks qualified in May for the 2022 ballot.

Tribal casinos are a huge business in the Golden State with $9.7 billion in gaming casinos in the state, along with northern Nevada in the fiscal year 2019.

The tribes also seek to operate Vegas-style roulette and craps. Meanwhile, card room operators – another stakeholder – want to have their piece of the pie in any change that allows sports betting in California.

According to Vixio, more sports betting initiatives may appear to qualify for the Nov. 2022 election – including the ones with online sports betting.

The public can comment on the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Act through Sept. 13.

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