BetMGM, FanDuel Initiative Will Be on November 2022 Ballot in California

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Open Up That Golden Gate! California, Here I Come!

Those lyrics, made famous almost 100 years ago, could be the theme song playing in the offices of DraftKings and FanDuel now that their sports betting ballot measure is officially on this November’s California ballot.

This week, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber will certify that the sports betting operators have acquired enough verified signatures to earn a place in front of the state’s voters. A group of at least seven of the biggest names in the sports betting industry ponied up $100 million in an effort to gather enough names to be eligible for this year’s election cycle.

It will be on the ballot with a competing initiative backed by the state's Indian tribes that also looks to make a wager on the Rams to repeat as Super Bowl champions legal. The 18 bands that make up the state's tribal community were able to get their one million-plus signatures certified last year.

Why Do You Need Two Sports Betting Options On The Ballot?

The fact that both these options are asking electorates to legalize wagering on sports is about all they have in common.

Tribal representatives are pushing a plan that allows a “retail only” option. Sure, you can bet on the Golden State Warriors to go back-to-back but you won’t be able to grab a ticket on UCLA winning the PAC12. Wagering on high school sports or California-based college teams would be excluded in their measure. You’re also going to get off your couch with their plan.

Only in-person sports betting at one of their many tribal casinos, or at the state’s four race tracks would be allowed. Tribes believe that the gambling monopoly they were promised (back in 2020 with Proposition 1A, legalized gambling on tribal land) is settled law, should cover sports betting as well.

If the current industry leaders in the sports betting market get their way, you’ll be able to throw some money on your favorite team from anywhere in the state, including your aforementioned sofa. These “Out-of-state” corporations, as the natives call the gambling companies, created a measure that includes mobile wagering, as long as they partner up with one of the Golden State's tribes.

What’s Going To Happen With Sports Betting In California?

In a state notorious for low voter turnout, there are multiple scenarios that could play themselves out.

Ballot measures require a simple majority of votes. If neither of these attempts to make sports wagering legal receive more no than yes votes, they both will fail. Once the votes are counted, if one of the measures has a majority and the other doesn’t the winning initiative would become reality.

Finally, there’s a realistic shot that both could receive a majority from voters. In that case, the possibility that the courts would become part of the story is a realistic one. California law says that if similar initiatives don’t conflict with each other, they both go into effect. If conflict does exist, the measure that had the higher margin of yes votes gets approved and the latter is out of luck.

Luck is an important aspect of betting on sports. In California you’re going to need a little just to have a chance to make a bet.

Written by Chas Filardi, our US sports betting industry expert.