A California tribal online sports betting initiative submitted for the 2024 election won’t qualify by signature count if its validity rates are similar to the sports betting measures on the 2022 ballot.
The Secretary of State released the initial count numbers for signatures on the possible future ballot measure. Petitioners, led by the chairmen of the San Manuel, Rincon, Graton Rancheria and Wilton Rancheria tribes, submitted 1,315,651 raw signatures.
That’s far less than the 1,568,835 submitted by sportsbook operators for Prop. 27 and the 1,427,369 for tribal in-person sports wagering Prop. 26.
San Manuel and its group of tribes first filed their California sports betting initiative for the 2022 election. However, they opted to focus on defeating Prop. 27 in 2022.
The proposal combines elements of Prop 26 and 27. It authorizes tribal casinos to offer in-person sports wagering, craps and roulette without the provision attacking card rooms that draws opposition for Prop 26. And it allows online wagering, but in a way with tribes taking control.
Their initiative could wait in the wings when the dust clears on the 2022 election battle. But it will have an uphill climb to gain eligibility through signature verification.
Qualifying on random count out of the question
At the California Secretary of State’s instruction, local counties have begun a random count of signatures for the tribal online sports betting measure. But, with this number of signatures submitted, it’s clear it won’t qualify by that method.
Random samples must show more than 110% of the required signatures. Prop 27 qualified by random sample. Prop 26, with more than 100,000 additional signatures, failed by random sample and went to qualify on a full count.
But given that the measure is trying to make the 2024 ballot, time is not an issue. Counties have until Sept. 2 to submit their random counts. Once the initiative doesn’t qualify by random count, it can move to a full count of signatures.
Percentages do not favor tribal online sports betting initiative
On a full count, submissions that amend the state constitution must reach 997,139 valid signatures.
In submitting 1,315,651 raw signatures, the tribes will need a validity rate of 75.8%.
Prop 27 qualified with a validity rate of 73.04%. Given that both are backed by tribes, Prop 26 and its 74.4% validity rate might be a better comparison.
If counties find the San Manuel measure has 74.4% of signatures valid, it will come up 18,295 signatures short.
If the initiative fails to qualify, the tribes could just file a new measure late next year and collect signatures for the 2024 election. However, the $10 million-plus spent collecting these signatures would go for naught.