California Cities File Sports Betting Measure for 2022 Ballot

California Cities File Sports Betting Measure for 2022 Ballot
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A push for legalized sports betting in California continues.

On Thursday, a coalition of California cities submitted a ballot initiative to expand California gambling by authorizing sports betting. The measure, known as the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act, was sent to the state Attorney General’s office and appeared on the AG website Thursday.

The next step is for California Attorney General Rob Bonta and his office to consider the initiative that was filed and produce a summary. Then supporters of the measure can begin collecting signatures to qualify for the November 2022 statewide ballot.

California elections law requires supporters to submit 997,139 valid signatures in order for the initiative to appear on the November 2022 general election ballot. The deadline for the signatures is April 2022.

The new initiative comes at a time when neighboring Arizona is about to launch AZ sports betting in time for the NFL season. Nevada gambling already includes sports betting.

There will be at least one other sports betting measure on the ballot if the cities are successful in gaining enough signatures. An initiative from California Indian tribes to allow retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos and state-licensed racetracks qualified in late May for the 2022 ballot. The tribal Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering needed two extensions to verify signatures before being certified.

There also could be other sports betting initiatives trying to qualify for the November 2022 election, according to Vixio Gambling Compliance. They also could include online sports betting.

The California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act — like the tribal initiative — would amend the state constitution. New compact terms between the state and the tribes would have to be negotiated. Professional sports teams and leagues could have sportsbooks inside their facilities if the initiative is passed.

California tribes oppose the new initiative, according to Vixio.

More Details of the Initiative

Other details in the cities’ proposal: Licenses would cost $5 million upfront and be reissued every two years for $1 million. Revenue from sports betting would be taxed at 25% and league data would be required.

The initiative was formally filed Thursday to the state attorney general’s office by Tasha Cerda, mayor of Gardena (Los Angeles County), Helen Fisicaro, vice mayor of Colma (San Mateo County) and Raul Peralez, San Jose (Santa Clara County) city council member.

“Throughout California, cities like mine are at their breaking point coping with social ills like homelessness, housing shortages, and crime, which have been supercharged by the COVID pandemic’s health and economic damage,” Cerda said in a news release, according to the Hews Media Group. “Let’s bring sports wagering out of the shadows, regulate the industry, and use a portion of the proceeds to benefit all Californians. Right now, the illegal and offshore operators reap those rewards and they’re bleeding us dry.”

Transparency from Operators

The measure requires sportsbook operators to conduct annual audits and report their findings to state regulators. There is also an effort to keep sports betting away from underage residents and funding for problem gambling programs.

“A legal sports wagering market will bring protections for consumers and children,” Cerda said. “This measure confines sports wagering to highly regulated and safe facilities, requires age verification for digital wagering, and outlaws advertising or marketing of sports wagering to children and young adults.”

An attempt to get sports betting on this year’s ballot in California died during the legislative session in June. Sen. Bill Dodd pulled a bill, SCA 6, from being considered by a Senate committee after facing fierce opposition from state tribes.

“Given the deadlines for getting a measure on the November ballot and the impact of COVID-19 on the public’s ability to weigh in, we were not able to get the bill across the finish line this year,” Dodd said in a news release at the time.

Lawmakers still hope to bring back legislation in 2022 and consider it.

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