California Tribes Ax Mobile Betting Proposal to Focus Efforts on Killing Commercial Initiative

  • Tribes will continue collecting signatures for the mobile proposal with an eye on the 2024 ballot
  • They are allocating about $100m to combat the proposal from commercial betting operators
  • The commercial proposal’s political committee submitted 1.6 million signatures last week
  • A retail-only tribal-backed initiative has also submitted signatures to reach the 2022 ballot
California and US flags
California tribes are no longer pursuing having their tribal-only mobile sports betting initiative on the 2022 ballot. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A big battle ahead

California tribes are no longer pushing for their own mobile sports betting initiative to reach the 2022 ballot. Instead, they have shifted their focus to stopping another online wagering proposal backed by seven commercial betting operators.

they will allocate $100m to help combat the commercial proposal

The three tribes – including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, and Wilton Ranchiere – announced their change of approach on Monday. They will still collect signatures in the hope of getting their mobile betting proposal on the 2024 ballot. The tribes have confirmed that they will allocate $100m to help combat the commercial proposal.

Last month, a study commissioned by California tribes suggested more than half of the people surveyed opposed the commercial operators’ proposal. At the yearly Indian Gaming Association convention in April, tribal leaders also spoke about how they would rather have their own retail-only proposal fail than commercial operators dominate a California online betting market.

Commercial initiative gaining momentum

The commercial betting measure is part of the proposed ‘California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act.’ The political committee for the proposal revealed last week that it has collected and submitted 1.6 million valid signatures for verification by the Secretary of State. 

Commercial operators supporting the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act include WynnBET, Penn National Gaming, FanDuel, Fanatics, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Bally’s.

To get on the 2022 ballot, an initiative needs to have at least 997,139 signatures of verified voters. The group’s own recent study showcased that 59% of people would vote in favor of the proposal. It allocated $100m to help acquire signatures and plans to use another $100m to lobby voters.

Other proposals

One initiative that has also collected the signatures necessary for the 2022 ballot is a retail-only proposal supported by the tribes. It would allow retail sportsbooks at the state’s four racetracks and at tribal casinos. There has been no official word that it will appear on the ballot.

California could host a substantial sports betting market as it is by far the most populous US state with over 39 million residents. VegasSlotsOnline News recently completed an analysis comparing the potential market to the Gold Rush of the 1800s.

The fourth initiative came from a group of card rooms in California. It aimed for an open sports betting market in the state, but did not receive sufficient support. The card rooms are not in favor of the commercial operators’ betting proposal and have also taken legal action to try to block the tribal retail-only proposal.