Sportsbooks and Tribes to Battle for California Sports Betting as Mobile Measure Makes Ballot

  • The sportsbook coalitions measure qualified by getting over 1.6 million signatures
  • Consultants say the proposal could trigger “the most expensive political battle of 2022”
  • The proposal will go up against a tribal measure for retail betting at certain venues
  • If a measure receives a 50% +1 favorable vote in November, CA would get legal betting
California flag with ballot box
An online, mobile sports betting measure backed by a coalition of sportsbooks has made it onto California’s November 2022 ballot. [Image:]

Over 1 million signatures

The battle for control of California’s legal online sports betting market is on between sportsbooks and tribes.

submitted more than 1.6 million signatures

On Tuesday, an alliance of sportbook firms headed by BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings confirmed that its online betting measure had qualified for the ballot. The group submitted more than 1.6 million signatures backing it, well over the 1 million required to reach the ballot.

In the opposing corner is a measure backed by California tribes, horse racing tracks, and card rooms that has already qualified for the ballot. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, industry consultants say the approval of the two proposals sets up what could be “the most expensive political battle this year.”

The breakdown

DK Nation, a DraftKings, Vox Media partnership, issued a news release Tuesday that included a summary of the coalition’s measure. It would establish an online betting market in which Californian bettors could only place wagers outside of Indian reservations.

The sportsbook measure gives the state’s tribes exclusivity to online and mobile sports wagering. However, it would allow for operators, such as DraftKings, to partner with the tribes for betting.

In addition to this, the measure sets a 10% tax on sports betting revenue and licensing fees, with this going towards regulation costs primarily. Of what remains in the coffers, 85% will go to homelessness programs, and 15% to nonparticipating tribes.

In contrast, the tribal measure aims to only legalize retail wagering at tribal casinos, the state’s four horse racetracks, and qualifying card rooms. The measure also comes with a $100m campaign spend to counter the online sports betting proposition.

To add to the complexity, another tribal measure is also in the race which would grant tribal casinos the right to add online wagering operations.

Spoils of the battle

The competing entities are fighting for control of one of the potentially largest betting markets in the world, believed to be worth as much as $3bn. No wonder Peter Schoenke, a board member of the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association, has described the California market as “the holy grail.”

The market could roll out as soon as January 1, 2023

If in November Californians vote in favor by just 50% +1 for any of the measures, the state would pass the bill to legalize sports betting. The market could roll out as soon as January 1, 2023, according to the DK Nation release.

Late February, a poll by the University of California revealed that 45% of voters in the state would support the amendment of California’s constitution to allow sports betting. Those against amounted to 33%, with 22% undecided.

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