Last Updated Feb 01, 2022, 22:42 PM

California’s Second Ballot Initiative for Legal Sports Betting

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Sports betting in the state of California is currently illegal. However, that could all change later this year at the hands of the state’s registered voters.

California gaming tribes have been pushing this issue for quite some time. On May 26 of last year, the Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative gained enough support to appear on this year’s general election ballot in November.

A successful vote would pave the way for legal sports betting at in-state tribal casinos and licensed race tracks. This measure does not include any provisions for betting at other state-licensed gaming establishments or in-state professional sports teams

As part of this proposal, sports betting revenues would be taxed at a rate of 10%. The expansion of casino gaming would also include roulette and dice games such as craps.

In an effort to expand legal sports betting outside of the tribal gaming sector, a second California ballot initiative is underway.

The California Legalize Sports Betting Initiative could also appear on this November’s general election ballot as a voter referendum. This proposal still includes in-state gaming tribes and licensed racing associations. However, state-licensed gaming establishments and professional sports teams would be added to the list.

All of these groups would be able to offer both retail and online sports betting. Retail sportsbooks could operate in existing gaming casinos, tracks, licensed gaming facilities and pro sports venues.

This initiative would also clear the way for legal online sports betting through mobile sportsbook apps. This is a key difference between the two different efforts for legalization. Another major difference is the increased tax rate on sports betting revenue to 25%.

The tax money collected would be earmarked for a Sports Wagering Fund. It would then be distributed to issues related to homelessness, affordable housing, public education and mental health.

Additional expansion of gaming through the California Legalize Sports Betting Initiative would include blackjack, card games and tile games at licensed gaming venues in the state.

In order for this initiative to be added to November’s ballot, it would need to gather at least eight percent of votes cast in the prior gubernatorial election. Petitions can be circulated for 180 days to gather the necessary signatures from registered voters.

To qualify, a total of 997,139 valid signatures would be required. The deadline for verification would be 131 days before November’s general election. This sets the deadline to submit the signatures on around June 30 of this year.

As support continues to grow for legal sports betting in some form in the state, California is making some solid headway in the legalization process. Past legislative efforts have continually come up short.

Putting the matter into the hands of the voters appears to be the best approach to getting something accomplished this year.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise here.

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