California 2024 Online Sports Betting Ballot Measure Petition Fails Review

Written By Derek Helling on September 12, 2022
2024 ballot measure california sports betting

California sports betting might eventually become legal but it might not happen as quickly as some proponents of legalization might like. A petition that sought to put a measure toward that end on the ballot in 2024 looks like it will fail to achieve that objective.

While the result of a review of the petition certainly isn’t the end of all and any attempts to change the legality of US online gambling within California’s borders, it could mean further delays in implementing a regulated system for online sports betting in the state. It also signals that proponents need to alter their strategy.

California sports betting petition doesn’t pass first muster

In late July, tribal casino operators and other entities in California submitted their petition to California Secretary of State Shirley Weber‘s office for certification. The certification procedure begins with a random sampling of the signature entries to verify their accuracy performed by county registrars.

Weber’s office announced that the petition failed the 110% threshold for certification on the random count, as only 955,807 of the 1,315,461 signatures on the submission were found to be valid. That’s about 141,000 valid signatures short of the necessary 1,096,853 necessary to trigger certification at that stage.

The random sampling did, however, satisfy the 95% threshold to trigger a full review, but by just about 8,000 signatures. Counties now have until Oct. 20 to verify all their respective signatures, with the exceptions of counties like Del Norte which had fewer than 500 signatures they verified during the random sampling.

Given the low number of verified signatures from the first inspection, it seems unlikely a second review will produce another 40,000 valid signatures the petition will need to become eligible upon full count. The requisite number of signatures there is 997,139.

Thus, it appears the proponents of this measure like the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will have to go back to the drawing board on this one. That might actually be a good thing for Californians in the long run, though.

So what happens now?

The supporters that ran the petition drive have plenty of time to try again since their target is the 2024 election. It’s unclear how they’ll drum up more support for a second attempt. Voter support for the legalization of California sports betting isn’t exactly enthusiastic or rampant.

Another indicator of voter indifference or opposition is that a ballot measure to legalize online sports betting in the 2022 election, Prop 27, appears headed for defeat in the election. Getting a requisite number of petition signatures for another vote in 2024 and then seeing that measure actually succeed might require all parties interested in the change to join forces instead of submitting competing proposals.

That appears unlikely right now. Tribal casino operators are hesitant to endorse any framework that doesn’t have them fully in control of online gambling in California. At the same time, online sportsbook operators don’t want to sign off on a proposal that would put them at the casino operators’ mercy.

There are other ways to go about making the change in California, such as through the state legislature and/or amendments to gaming compacts. Those routes would come with their own set of challenges, however, with tribal casino operators holding significant sway in either approach.

If voters surprise the pollsters and do approve Prop 27 in November, this becomes a different conversation. For now, though, the failure of the 2024 petition seems to signal that to legalize online sports betting at the ballot box, everyone involved might have to iron out some kind of compromise. It could take some time to reach that point.

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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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