Sportsbooks Lead New Sports Betting Proposal In California

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California voters have at least three more days before they’ll get a chance to sign their names to a $100 million sportsbook-led proposed initiative to bring sports betting to the Golden State. 

That’s based on a timeline released by the California Attorney General’s Office, which must issue an official “circulating title and summary” for the proposed initiative before a petition to put it on the ballot can be circulated among voters. Both the title and summary are expected to be issued on or around Nov. 4, 2021

If issued this Thursday, organizers of the proposed initiative will be cleared to begin circulating a petition for voter signatures the same day, according to the Attorney General’s website.

The “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act” is one of three proposed sports betting 2022 ballot measures in the state and the only one backed by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, and other top brands

Should the proposed measure pass, California could be the first state nationally to pledge sports betting revenue to homelessness and mental health programs.

At least 997,139 valid signatures will be required to qualify the initiative since it would expand gaming. Any sports betting initiative requires at least that number of valid signatures to qualify for the ballot under California law. 

A Brief History Of California Proposed Sports Betting Initiatives

Major sportsbooks decided to file their own proposed initiative in California on August 31 following the filing of two other proposals to bring sports betting to the state in early 2023. 

Already eligible for the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot is the $12 million tribal-led “California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative” to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and select racetracks in California.

Another proposed initiative — the “California Solutions to Homelessness, Public Education Funding, Affordable Housing, and Reduction of Problem Gambling Act” — is a locally-backed measure to legalize sports betting at cardrooms, tracks, tribal casinos, and professional sports venues in California. Organizers of the initiative must submit the required number of valid signatures by April 18, 2022 for that proposal to be ballot-eligible.

All three initiatives would go on the ballot as proposed constitutional amendments.

That makes for a tense three-way race in a state where conflicting proposals could end up as winner-take-all for the measure with the most “yes” votes, but it appears the ballot is where this issue will be decided.

Attempts to reach an agreement on sports betting in the California State Legislature have failed in recent years amid clashes between tribal and non-tribal interests.  It’s unlikely that has changed, according to a May 27 Los Angeles Times interview with sports betting industry advisor Chris Grove. 

“Online betting is a contentious issue, and finding stakeholder consensus will continue to be a difficult task,” Grove told the Times

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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