Golden State residents are getting ready to watch one of the most expensive lobbying battles of the decade unfold ahead of the 2022 Midterm elections. Tribal and commercial sportsbooks are competing for the opportunity to host local event wagering operations.
Over the past year, a handful of political action groups have submitted a wide variety of ballot initiatives. Now that the window for signature gathering is closed, the heat of elections will start to kick off.
Proposals On The Table
Two measures for California legal sports betting are expected to make the November ballot. The details of each proposal are as follows:
- California Legalize Sports Betting On American Indian Lands Initiative: This proposal aims to legalize exclusive retail sports gambling options on reservations owned by federally recognized tribes. In addition to authorizing in-person sportsbooks, the measure also includes language to add roulette and dice games to the roster of approved casino activities. All earned revenues from event wagering would be taxed at a flat rate of 10%.
- Legalize Sports Betting Revenue For Homeless Prevention Fund: This proposal takes a broad approach, asking voters to legalize in-person and mobile sports betting options. Sportsbook privileges would be extended to all of the state’s gaming entities. Eligible operators include card rooms, horse tracks, professional sports leagues, federally recognized tribes, and national corporations. The measure would also include provisions for expanded table games at casinos. In contrast to the initiative above, licensees would have to turn over 25% of earned revenues to the state.
Revenue Taxes Fall Short
The first proposal has already secured its spot on the ballot. Advocates for tribe-exclusive gaming say that allowing the entrance of national gaming conglomerates will harm California in the long term.
A group called Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming claim that the 25% tax proposed by corporate sportsbooks will not bring about substantial change to the problem of homelessness in California.
Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for the group, told reporters the following:
“Yes, they are promising money to fight homelessness, and if you look at the fine print, 90% of these dollars go out of state, and then the pennies that remain get chopped up through some other loopholes. Essentially, you’re looking at maybe a 3% bump to the amount of money the state currently spends on homelessness.”
Still, opponents of the “California Legalize Sports Betting On American Indian Lands Initiative” could say the same. 10% of earned wagers is hardly generous, especially when considering the historically low revenues produced by retail-only betting.
Legal Online Betting Access
Compared to the legal framework in other sports betting states of similar size, Californians are getting a bad deal from both sides. New York, for example, negotiated a 51% tax rate on all domestic mobile wagers.
Both entities have provided convincing arguments, many of which have backing from local officials. Still, the power is with the people. And voters should feel no obligation to pass legislation on the sole premise of access.
Because of their access to legal offshore sportsbook sites, California bettors have leverage in the lawmaking process. No state should settle for less than what it deserves.
Source: ABC 7