California Sports Betting initiative is Now Eligible for the 2022 Ballot


A sports betting initiative backed by the California tribes is now eligible for the 2022 ballot as of this week, Thursday. The county election officials were able to verify over more than 1 million signatures to keep the initiative rolling.

From California’s 58 counties, there were a total of 1,427,373 supporters who signed the initiative and the election officials were able to verify 1,061,282 signatures. According to reports, the supporters included the state’s tribal nations who operate the local casinos.

Mark Macarro who is the chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians released a statement about this step towards legal sports betting in the state of California. He said, “This is an important step toward giving Californians the opportunity to participate in sports wagering while also establishing safeguards and protections against underage gambling.”

Should Californians already start browsing through online casino reviews to look for the best websites to place their bets on? Well, California still has a lot to go through to have local sports betting available or if it would even make it to the governor’s table. For now, the locals can only really rely on offshore casinos and bookies or travel to the nearest state with legal sports betting.

Why California is Running A Bit Behind

It has already been over three years ago when the Supreme Court of the United States has stricken down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which made sports betting in the country federally illegal. After PASPA is out, however, each state in the US can now decide whether they would like to legalize and regulate local sports betting.

Since May 2018, when the Supreme Court made the decision on PASPA, many states have immediately taken a step towards legalizing local sports betting including New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, New York, and many more.

Today, there are now over 20 states with legal betting and around 12 already have launched the local operations of sports betting. The majority of the states with legal sports betting also allows online betting. 

What the Initiative is About

The initiative that garnered over a million signatures from the California locals will allow federally recognized tribes in the state to operate with casino games including roulette and dice games. Sports betting will then be allowed in the tribal lands.

Horse-racing tracks that are privately operated in Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego will also be allowed to offer onsite sports betting to people who are over 21 years old starting 2022. When it comes to tax, the state would take 10 percent of the overall betting revenue. The money that the state will get will be used on programs and enforcements related to gambling problems.

Since it is qualified for the 2022 ballot, it is likely that it will be certified as qualified to appear on the ballots on June 30, 2022. Voters should be able to decide on the initiative’s fate by November 2022. This is according to the California Secretary of State. However, this is only the case if it will not be withdrawn by proponents before the certification.

The initiative is backed by the tribal nations including Jeff Grubbe, the chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Names like Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, the former chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County, and Anthony Roberts, the chairman of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in Brooks are also listed as proponents.

However, like in any other state that pushed for legal sports betting, there are also people who are reluctant or even against the move. There are card clubs in the state who are left out from a share of the sports betting revenue who are expected to oppose the initiative.

Some of them are saying that the initiative is there to attempt to monopolize the gaming industry. Kyle Kirkland, the president of the California Gaming Association, is not a fan of this initiative. He 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.”

If California ends up regulating local sports betting, it’s likely that it would be the sports betting capital in the US. After all, it has the largest population in the country. Based on reports, California could get as much as a billion worth of annual revenue from sports betting alone. It could even go up to 3 billion USD if the state includes online sports betting. 

For now, the locals can still place their sports bets offshore as this isn’t federally illegal. If they don’t want to place their bets outside the country, they can just travel to the nearest state with legal sports betting and place their bets there. Even if voters say yes to this initiative in 2022, it will still have to go through a process before sports betting goes live in the state.