Steph Curry celebrates, Golden State Warriors

Jan 27, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) smiles between plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

  • A California online sports betting ballot initiative received 1.6 million signatures
  • The campaign, Californians for Solutions to Homelessness & Mental Health Support, turned the signatures over to the state for verification
  • The initiative needs a little more than 1 million verified signatures to appear on the November general election ballot

The race for the future of California sports betting is starting to heat up.

A campaign to legalize California online sports betting announced Tuesday it had collected 1.6 million signatures to qualify its ballot measure for the 2022 November general election.

The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act needs 1,096,853 valid signature to qualify for the upcoming election ballot. The signatures need to be verified by the California Secretary of State by June 30, but it’s likely the initiative will have the necessary amount to be on the ballot.

If approved, it will be the second sports betting initiative on the ballot, joining an initiative seeking to legalize retail sports betting for California Tribes.

California Online Sports Betting Likely on November Ballot

Backed by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Fanatics Betting and Gaming, Bally’s Interactive, WynnBET, and Penn National Gaming (Barstool Sportsbook) through a $100 million contribution, the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act seeks to legalize online sports betting for national operators, as long as they partner with a California Tribe.

The initiative will allocate 85% of sports betting revenue to the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Account, which will help combat homelessness and mental health issues in the state. The additional 15% of revenue will be allocated to the Tribal Economic Development Account, which will provide economic development and assistance to tribes in the state who do not participate in the online sports betting program. There are 104 federally recognized tribes in California.

“This ballot measure would give cities like Fresno a guaranteed funding source to address homelessness,” Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said in a press release from the campaign. “To truly solve this critical issue and give those most vulnerable among us the housing, mental health and addiction treatment they need, there must be an ongoing revenue stream. This initiative would do just that.”

According to a poll from David Binder Research (commissioned by the campaign), 59% of surveyed Californians approve of the measure, with only 28% opposed.

Tribal Opposition to Outside Sports Betting Operators

California Tribal representatives are firmly opposed to the online sportsbook backed initiative, preferring to keep the future of retail and online sports betting in the hands of California tribes.

The Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming represents 43 California tribes and is the driving force behind the Tribal Sports Wagering Act, the only approved sports betting initiative for the November ballot so far. The initiative seeks to legalize retail sports betting at tribal casinos and state casinos, while keeping sports betting under the umbrella of tribal control.

Earlier today, the campaign vowed to defeat the online sports betting initiative and warned it could lead to a rise in underage sports betting if approved.

“The Corporate Online Gambling Proposition would legalize online and mobile sports gambling – turning virtually every cell phone, laptop, tablet and gaming console into a gambling device, increasing the risks of underage and problem gambling,” said Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, in a press release. “We will run a vigorous campaign against this measure and are confident the voters will see through the deceptive promises being made by these out-of-state gambling corporations.”

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Wilton Rancheria, and Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians recently formed a committee to campaign against the corporate online sports betting measure, pledging an initial campaign budget of $100 million. It has started running television advertisements throughout the state opposing the measure.

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