California Voters Should Have Two Legal Sports Betting Referendums

US Sportsbooks · Bonus Codes · Betting News · Special Update

The effort to bring legal sports betting to California continues leading up to this November’s general election. Competing gaming industry groups within the state have gone all out to bring the matter to California residents through a voter referendum.

In reality, voters are likely to have a pair of referendums on legalizing sports betting to consider. One group is led by US-based sportsbook operators FanDuel and DraftKings. The other represents tribal gaming interests in the state.

The coalition led by sportsbook operators just presented the California Office of the Secretary of State with more than 1.6 million signatures. State officials will continue to verify these signatures through the month of June.

Known as Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support, this group is pushing for legal mobile sports betting. A large portion of the revenue from legal sports betting would go towards supporting this cause.

The effort led by in-state gaming tribes only calls for retail sportsbooks in tribal casinos. This group received enough support in 2021 to add a voter referendum to the ballot for the 2022 general election.

Existing state law only allows casino gambling through tribal interests. Legal sports betting would be expanded to the state’s land-based casinos and select horse racing tracks. The amended gaming compact with the state would also include the addition of roulette and dice games.

If this referendum is approved by in-state voters, the final step would be formal approval of a new gaming compact by the federal government. With voter support, approval by the US Department of the Interior is seen as a formality.

The tribal initiative does not call for legal mobile sports betting. Wagering on in-state college sports would also be prohibited.

Gaming tribes in the state are fighting hard to maintain their current monopoly. As chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Cody Martinez released the following statement:

The Corporate Online Gambling Proposition would legalize online and mobile sports gambling – turning virtually every cell phone, laptop, tablet and gaming console into a gambling device, increasing the risks of underage and problem gambling.

Cody Martinez, Chairman of Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation

The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego County has also come out in support of the tribal sports betting initiative. That department has voiced its concerns with underage and problem gambling.

The primary selling point for the coalition of mobile sportsbook operators is higher revenue. Legal online sports betting would bring in millions of dollars in much-needed revenue to help combat homelessness and mental illness throughout California.

Under this proposal, 85% of mobile sports betting revenue would be earmarked for this cause. The other 15% would go to in-state tribes without gaming operations. As a spokesperson for the group, Nathan Click stated:

This is the state’s No. 1 need, its greatest humanitarian challenge and right now there is no permanent revenue source for housing and the services required to help elevator people out of homelessness.

Nathan Click, Spokesperson for Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County

Written by Dave Schwab, our US sports betting industry expert.