Sports betting initiative in California recently qualified for the state’s 2022 ballot
California voters will head to the polls on Nov. 8, 2022, to decide an initiative that would legalize sports betting. The ballot initiative would amend the state constitution and state statutes to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California. The measure would apply a 10% tax on profits from betting at racetracks and legalize roulette and dice games, such as craps, at tribal casinos.
The Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering, which supports the proposal, launched in November 2019. On Dec. 14, 2020, the campaign filed 1,427,373 signatures. On May 26, 2021, the office of Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced that the initiative qualified for the ballot after counties found 1,061,282 signatures to be valid. The minimum number required was 997,139.
Several American Indian tribes support the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering. The campaign had raised $11.57 million through March 31, 2021. Mark Macarro, chairman of Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, said: “Californians should have the choice to participate in sports wagering at highly regulated, safe and experienced gaming locations. We are very proud to see tribes from across California come together for this effort, which represents an incremental but important step toward giving Californians the freedom to participate in this new activity in a responsible manner.”
Opponents launched the No on the Gambling Power Grab PAC, which terminated in late 2020. The PAC raised $1.09 million. Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Association, said: “This initiative does nothing to advance sports wagering, and instead expands the tribal casinos’ tax-free monopoly on gaming and rewards those operators for prioritizing their own wealth over public health and safety.”
California is one of 21 states that has not legalized sports betting. Twenty-nine states and D.C. have legalized or passed laws legalizing sports betting. In California, a constitutional amendment is required to legalize sports betting because the state constitution defines what types of gambling are permitted in the state.
Since 2018, four states have legalized sports betting through ballot measures. On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, effectively allowing states to legalize it. Thirteen states had active sports betting industries as of November 2019.
The sports betting ballot initiative joins two other citizen-initiated measures on the 2022 general election ballot in California.
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