Californians should know tomorrow whether an initiative to bring sports betting to the Golden State has enough valid signatures to put the issue on the ballot next year.
May 26 is the deadline for counties to verify signatures needed to put the initiative — called the “California Legalize Sports Betting on American Lands Initiative” – before statewide voters in Nov. 2022. There was a minimum of 206,000 required signatures outstanding at last check on May 24, according to the California Secretary of State website, with a minimum of 997,139 valid signatures required to put the initiative to public vote.
An April deadline for verification was extended by the courts to give Los Angeles and San Diego counties — two of the state’s largest — extra time as they battled a work backlog tied to a statewide petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Should the sports betting initiative get approval of California’s voters, it would allow retail sports betting at select horse racetracks starting next year. It would also set the stage for California tribal casinos to operate sportsbooks, pending approval of an amended tribal-state gaming compact.
A Brief History of California Sports Betting
Californians have tried before to legalize sports betting at the state legislative level. Both attempts — in 2016 and 2017 — fizzled when broad-based support came up short.
Also doomed was a ballot initiative called “Californians for Sports Betting” that would have allowed a competitive sports betting market in the state except for considerable tribal opposition.
The 2022 initiative would appear on the ballot as a combined initial constitutional amendment and state statute. That means both the state constitution and one or more state gambling-related laws would be changed should voters give the initiative the green light.