US Sports Betting Update: California, New York, Washington, Arizona

  • The NYGC has agreed on a final tax rate of 64% for New York mobile sports betting
  • Four California mayors support a ballot initiative aiming to legalize online sports betting
  • Washington State’s Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe is one step closer to sports wagering
  • Gov. Ducey’s office has appointed a team of lawyers to nix the YPIT’s ongoing lawsuit in Arizona
Red, white, and blue buttons reading "sports"
Headlines from the US sports betting world include New York mobile license tax rates, California mayors supporting legalization, and two tribes making polar opposite news in Washington State and Arizona. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Headlines from four states

US sports betting moves involving tax rates set for New York mobile license bids, steps to go legal in California, tribal compacts amended in Washington State, and attempts to dismiss a tribal suit in Arizona recently hit the headlines.

On October 19 over on the Eastern Seaboard, state regulators agreed on a final tax rate as the race for a coveted New York mobile sports betting license nears the finish line. The New York State Gaming Commission (NYGC) took to Twitter to share a statement on the evaluation process.

The “final tax rate matrix” is what all bidders for the New York mobile sports betting license must meet. The statement said bidders have until October 25 to amend their bids to reflect the new tax rate baseline, or be disqualified from the running.

hurt my eyes looking at it”

From the statement, it appears the final tax rate is an eye-watering 64%. Buffalo News Albany bureau chief Tom Precious tweeted the NYGC’s final tax rate matrix spreadsheet, saying it “hurt my eyes looking at it.”

According to the process outlined in the NYGC’s Request for Applications (RFA) the highest tax rate submitted by any of the sports betting license bidders is the tax rate that all winners will have to pay.

The NYGC, which has received six bids, is intending to award licenses to at least two platform providers and a minimum of four operators. The NYGC plans to select finalists by December 6 and give those remaining applicants a week to submit their final application.

California mayors back initiative

Over in California, the mayors of Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland and Sacramento have publicly backed the ballot initiative aiming to legalize online sports betting in California. The four mayors — Jerry Dyer, Robert Garcia, Libby Schaaf, and Darrell Steinberg, respectively — issued a joint release on October 19, saying the sports wagering initiative would provide “hundreds of millions of dollars” in funding for homelessness and mental health services.

Mayor Steinberg said in a statement that the initiative “will create a stable and reliable funding source to tackle these immense challenges.”

Sports betting operators DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM are the chief proponents behind the ballot initiative called the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act.

The initiative aims to legalize online sports betting via a referendum and needs just under one million signatures to make the November 2022 ballot.

Several charity groups also added their support to the proposal, including the Regional Task Force on Homelessness for the San Diego area, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, and All Home.

Another Washington tribe for sports betting

Also on October 19, the Washington State Gaming Commission (WSGC) said it had “reached a tentative agreement” with the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe to amend its Class III gaming compact to allow sports betting.

In an official statement, WSGC chair Bob Sizemore said his body’s “mutual efforts” with tribal gaming agencies were “successfully helping Tribal casinos add this new gaming experience for their customers.”

According to the WSGC, the tentative agreement must now go through a state and federal approval process.

Sauk-Suiattle tribal chair Nino Maltos II said his tribe believed that sports wagering offers an “exciting new area that can provide needed economic opportunity to Sauk-Suiattle and all of Indian Country.”

Arizona governor takes on tribal opposition

On October 18, news coming from the southwestern US was that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has decided to play hardball with the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe (YPIT). The northern Arizona tribe wants to derail the state’s legal sports wagering market via an ongoing lawsuit, so Gov. Ducey’s office has appointed a team of lawyers to nix it.

Gov. Ducey signed sports wagering legislation HB 2772 into law April 15, 2021. The YPIT wanted HB 2772 declared unconstitutional, arguing that the law violates Arizona’s Voter Protection Act. The YPIT allege the bill illegally amended Proposition 202, a 2002 voter initiative that restricted gambling outside of tribal reservations. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith refused to issue an injunction request by YPIT to stop sports betting from rolling out in Arizona on September 9.

The governor’s legal team filed a motion to toss the tribe’s suit on Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court. The lawyers argue that the YPIT waited too long to file its complaint, and cite the “significant prejudice” of its actions on the ten Arizona tribes who have already gotten their sports betting licenses.