The fate of California sports betting depends on the efficiency of election officials as Wednesday is the deadline to verify signatures for the 2022 referendum. If Los Angeles and San Diego counties review and verify petition signatures for sports betting within Wednesday’s deadline, the measure will find its way on a ballot next year (or maybe this year). The signatures are reportedly enough to push sports betting to the next procedure.
The Golden State’s gaming tribes led the petition drive last year.
According to the latest information from the California Secretary of State’s office, nearly 772,000 signatures have been verified out of more than 1 million that have been checked. Officials need to verify 225, 147 out of 400,690 signatures left to verify by Wednesday to meet the required number of 997,139 valid signatures.
Last Friday, Los Angeles County reported its results, approving 298,504, or 75.6% signatures as valid of the 394,699 raw signatures.
Of the state’s 58 counties, only seven have yet to verify results. San Diego officials require to determine 160,234 signatures. Riverside, has 85,956, while Sacramento has 74,694 signatures to verify. If those three counties are able to verify 71% of their signatures, the California sports betting measure will find its way on the ballot.
How Have We Reached Here?
In 2020, the group renewed sports betting initiative to bring the industry at California’s 69 tribal casinos and four horse racetracks onto the Nov. 2020 ballot. The signing process that began March 2020 saw pandemic-led delays during the signature-gathering process. However, the signature deadline was graciously extended, on several occasions, allowing the measure to be put on the 2022 ballot.
In Dec. 2020, the group reported filing almost 1.4 million signatures.
The original deadline to verify the valid signatures was March 9, 2021, before the deadline was extended to May 26 due to the coronavirus.
The Golden State’s latest sports betting cause is espoused by the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering. The coalition is supported by various native tribes including Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
Together, the coalition has raised $11.57 million from California’s tribal gaming operators who expect to offer sports betting through their establishments following regulation.
Earlier, the speculation was to get the initiative to get on Nov. 2021 ballot in case of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election. However, the 2022 election has a more realistic expectation.
Earlier Attempts to Legalize California Sports Betting
The latest initiative, sparked by tribal groups in 2020, is the third time in recent years to see legalized sports betting in California. Earlier attempts in 2017 and 2019 failed due to a lack of enough support for passage.
In 2020, the Golden State’s tribes opposed a legislative proposal from Sen. Bill Dodd. The tribes also turned down a measure aimed at bringing up a ballot initiative that would have allowed competitive sports betting market in California.
Once verified by the state officials, the 2022 initiative would go on the ballot, and if voters approve it would amend the state’s gambling law. It would legalize sports betting at Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California, allowing those establishments to take bets on professional, college, as well as amateur athletic events. However, there would still be no online sports betting in California.
In addition, tribal casinos could also have additional gaming options such as roulette and dice games, provided tribal-state compacts are amended to allow these types of games.
Though California will have to wait beyond 2022 for legal sports betting if state bettors are lucky the political misfortune of Gov. Newsom could bring the referendum to this year.