California Sports Betting Initiative Qualifies for 2022 Ballot
California voters will have their say in 2022 on legal sports betting after an effort to expand gaming at tribal casinos and racetracks had enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
More than 1,000,000 votes (about 1,060,000) were verified, beating this week’s deadline and number needed to qualify for the 2022 ballot, according to the secretary of state. A tribal Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering had received two extensions to verify signatures.
Some reports have suggested that the tribes might try to get the question before voters this year if a governor recall election is held in November. It is unclear as to whether the measure could qualify for the recall election.
Counties originally were not required to report the number of valid signatures until March 9, 2021, because of a coronavirus-related executive order. Then the deadline was extended for a second time to May 26.
Heading into the week, a large number of votes still needed to be verified before the deadline.
Details of California Sports Wagering Initiative
Federally recognized tribes in California would be able to offer roulette, dice games and sports wagering on tribal lands if voters approve. Gaming compacts between the tribes and state would have to be negotiated and approved by the state legislature.
Licensed horse-racing tracks would also be permitted to have sports wagering onsite.
The ballot measure, in addition to legalizing sports betting at tribal casinos and certain racetracks, would allow bets on pro, college or amateur events. Online sports betting would not be allowed.
There would be a 10% tax on profits from sports bets made at racetracks. The government would distribute 15% of the revenue to the California Department of Health for problem gambling research and prevention. The Bureau of Gambling Control would also receive 15% for the enforcement and implementation of wagering and other gaming, The state General Fund would get the remaining 70% of revenue.
Lawmakers Have Tried Before
Last year, a proposal from Sen. Bill Dodd was met by strong opposition from the state’s tribes and ultimately didn’t garner enough support.
The amendment, SCA 6, called for a sports betting referendum to be on the November ballot. But Senate hearings were delayed and lawmakers ran out of time.
Similar efforts in the legislature in 2017 and 2019 met the same fate.
Now, the 2022 measure will be on the ballot as an initial constitutional amendment and a state statute. If voters approve the amendment, the state constitution and one or more gambling-related laws would be changed.
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