Online Sports Betting Initiative Would Benefit CA Homeless

Online Sports Betting Initiative Would Benefit CA Homeless
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A disabled homeless person sleeps in a tent in San Diego, California. (Picture: Rishi Deka/PA Images)

Proponents of expanding California gambling to include legalized online sports betting are prepared to back an initiative that would provide funding for homelessness and mental health efforts.

Supporters of the new initiative include DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook and BetMGM.

They will establish a campaign committee and file the “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act,” according to campaign manager, Dana Williamson, who told POLITICO of the news in a statement. Williamson is a veteran political strategist who advised former Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Permanent solutions require a permanent funding source,” Williamson added. “The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act will raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually to fight homelessness and expand mental health support in California by allowing regulated entities to offer safe, responsible sports betting online.”

The new measure will not conflict with the sports betting initiative backed by California tribes that will be on the 2022 ballot. The initiative that will be before voters would permit retail sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks. This new indicative would be “complementary” to the tribal one, according to the proponents.

Prominent supporters of the measure includes Bexstar Strategies, Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, in addition to others.

The initiative would distribute 85% of total revenue to homelessness and mental health resources, while 15% would go to tribal communities.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told POLITCO he favored the measure. Steinberg led a 2004 initiative that increased income tax rates on millionaires to pay for mental health services.

“It is a rare occasion when any initiative seeks to dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars or more for the cause," he said in the report. "Funding mental health programs and fighting homelessness is currently subject to the whims of the economy."

Age Requirement for Online Betting

Under the initiative, players would need to be at least 21 years old to place bets online. Proponents also mention the platforms would be “using the most advanced and proven technology to enforce restrictions, and it imposes fines of up to $100,000 for any operator who knowingly accepts bets from minors.”

According to POLITICO, the initiative would also give the California Department of Justice “broad power to regulate online sports betting in California to ensure there is no corruption or illegal activity in the market.”