California Operator-Backed Online Sports Betting Initiative Officially Qualifies For 2022 Ballot

Written By Derek Helling on June 28, 2022 - Last Updated on July 10, 2022
2022 Ballot Qualifies In California For The Homelessness Support Act

It’s all but official. Registered voters in California will weigh in on not one but two disparate sports betting ballot measures in November. On Monday, the California Solutions to Homelessness & Mental Health Support Act officially qualified for the election.

With a ballot certification pending later this week, the state’s secretary of state certified enough signatures for the initiative to qualify on Monday. Opponents of the measure wasted no time in restating their commitment to defeating the measure.

California Homelessness Support Act good to go

Before Monday, there was still a question of whether Californians would vote on one or two ballot measures designed to legalize sports betting in their state this fall. It seemed likely, just not official.

On Monday, California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber ended that uncertainty. Weber announced her office found the petition submitted demanding placement of the Act on the November 2022 ballot “filed more than 1,096,583 valid signatures.”

The secretary will certify the ballot on Thursday. It will feature this Act and also the Tribal Sports Wagering Act. The Tribal Sports Wagering Act would legalize in-person betting on sports at tribal casinos within the state’s borders.

It would also strengthen tribal casinos’ exclusivity over certain card games. They would gain the right to sue any cardroom they believe is violating their compacts.

As voters could approve both acts this fall, it’s important for voters to understand how they might and might not conflict with each other.

What does the California Homelessness Act have to do with sports betting?

Actually, everything. The measure’s language would legalize online sports betting in California. It has the financial backing of many companies that would love to be involved in that. Bally’s, DraftKings, and FanDuel are among them.

The Act would take a 10% cut of gross revenue from online wagering and give it to the state. Most of that money, 85%, would go to support mental healthcare and provide, well, solutions for homelessness. The other 15% would go to tribal groups within the state that does not offer gaming.

The Tribal Sports Wagering Act would not legalize online wagering. Additionally, the Solutions to Homelessness Act does not cover retail betting. In those ways, then, the measures wouldn’t conflict if they both got the requisite 50%+1 of the vote in their favor.

The Homelessness Act would also only legalize online wagering on non-tribal lands. Thus, tribal groups would still maintain sovereignty over their own “air space,” so to speak. Tribal casino operators are planning their own online sports betting initiative for the 2024 election.

Regardless, the Homelessness Act faces opposition. Part of that opposition fired back on Monday after Weber’s announcement.

Coalition reinforces opposition to Homelessness Act

In a Monday press release, the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming restated its talking points. That coalition consists of law enforcement members, business leaders, and tribal casino operators.

Tribal casino opposition is about control of sports wagering in the state. While the Homelessness Act’s provisions would require online operators like Bally Bet to partner with a tribal casino in the state and allow tribal casino operators to create their own online platforms if they wish, it would not give the tribal casino operators the total control of the gambling form that they desire.

“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 Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez.

“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.”

Earlier this year, the Coalition pledged $100 million to convince voters of their position as they anticipated the Homelessness Act would qualify for the ballot. They aren’t alone in opposing the Homelessness Act, either.

Voices in opposition to and support of the Homelessness Act

The California Teachers Association also opposes the Homelessness Act. They do so for a different reason altogether, though. Their distaste for the Act has nothing to do with gambling. Rather, the CTA opposes the Act because it would divert state money to a cause other than education.

The Homelessness Act isn’t without its allies, though. Tamera Kohler, CEO of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness for the San Diego area talked to Matt Kredell of sister site PlayCA on Monday.

“This initiative is a critical step forward, dedicating revenue to the issue of homelessness is a win-win for our state,” Kohler commented.

“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.”

Companies like DraftKings and FanDuel are sure to lend their support to the measure as well now that it’s all but official. It remains to be seen whether those companies will enlist the aid of their partners in the state like California’s professional sports teams.

With control of legal sports wagering at stake, the messaging around this issue should be hot and heavy through November. For that reason, many Californians might not be able to wait until November arrives.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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