An online sports betting measure will go in front of California voters on the November ballot.
The CA Secretary of State announced Monday that the sports betting measure backed by seven companies looking to operate online sportsbooks in California accumulated enough valid signatures to qualify on a random count.
On Thursday, the CA Secretary of State will certify the initiatives as qualified for the Nov. 8 general election.
The operators hope to garner support in November by tying sports betting revenue to fighting homelessness. Sports betting revenue totaling up to $500 million annually could create the first permanent source of funding to fight homelessness.
“If we permit and regulate online sports betting for adults age 21 and over, California residents should benefit from it. Twenty-four other states have already made this decision, our state should be next” said Tomiquia Moss, CEO/founder of All Home, in a press release. “When all people have a safe and decent place to call home, it benefits entire communities. The funding this measure provides would provide a huge lift for efforts to deliver housing and support to people experiencing homelessness and make us all better off.”
Qualifying for ballot
To gain eligibility as a constitutional amendment, initiatives need to collect 997,139 valid signatures. But in order to qualify on a random count, operators needed to show a projection of 110% of that amount. Or 1,096,853 signatures.
The operators submitted signatures to 58 counties across California for review on May 3.
Under a random count, election officials randomly select 3% of signatures, or a minimum of 500. From the validity percentage of those signatures, they extrapolate how many of the signatures submitted to the county are likely valid.
Election officials projected the online sports wagering initiative for 1,142,317 signatures at a 73.04% validity rate.
Operators backing the initiative include:
- Bally’s Interactive
- Penn National Gaming
In total, they have contributed $100 million to support the initiative’s passage.
“This initiative is a critical step forward, dedicating revenue to the issue of homelessness is a win-win for our state,” said Tamera Kohler, CEO of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness for the San Diego area. “It would provide an ongoing funding source of hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fight homelessness and provide mental health services to those most in need.”
Details of Online Operator Sports Wagering Measure
- Authorizes online sports wagering. All online sportsbooks must partner with a federally recognized Indian tribe.
- Bettors must be at least 21 years of age.
- Potential number of online platforms is limited to the number of federally recognized Indian tribes in California (105). However, requirements for online sports wagering operator licenses will limit market to less than 20 sportsbook apps.
- A $100 million initial license fee for mobile sports betting operators, renewable every five years for $10 million.
- Tribes can develop their own online platform under the name of the tribe or tribal casino for a $10 million initial fee. It’s renewable every five years for $1 million.
- Online platforms must also be licensed to operate sportsbooks in at least 10 US states or territories, or five states along with operating/managing 12 physical casinos in the US.
- Online wagers must be placed by someone physically within the boundaries of California but outside Indian lands.
- A 10% tax rate on gross gaming revenue paid by the operator, or a tribe that develops its own platform.
- 85% of sports betting tax revenue goes toward homelessness and mental health support programs.
- 15% of mobile sports betting revenue goes toward economic development and assistance to tribal nations without sports wagering.
- Language in the measure specifies it is not in conflict with the in-person tribal initiative.
Tribal campaigns oppose operator initiative
Even though the operators included language in their initiative specifying that it is not in conflict with the tribal in-person initiative and asked tribes to work together to pass both initiatives, two tribal coalitions have already started campaigns against the online sports wagering measure from operators.
Tribes supporting the in-person initiative make up the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming.
Tribes backing a tribal online sports betting measure trying to qualify for the 2024 election make up Protect Tribal Sovereignty & Safe Gaming.
“Time and again, California voters have stood with Indian tribes to support gaming on tribal lands while rejecting initiatives that would hurt tribes,” said Vice-Chairwoman Beth Glasco, Barona Band of Mission Indians. “We’re confident that the voters will once again stand with us in allowing sports wagering on tribal lands, and against a massive expansion of online and mobile gambling controlled by out-of-state gambling corporations.”