California Sports Betting Will Be in 2022 Ballot

Casinos in California

The fate of California sports betting will be decided by state voters after an initiative to bring sports betting to the Golden State has qualified for the November 2022 ballot.

According to the California Secretary of State’s office on Thursday, the coalition of federally recognized California Indian tribes had collected enough signatures for a measure to add roulette, dice games, and California sports betting at tribal casinos to qualify for the ballot.

A total of 1,061,282 signatures of registered voters were verified via the California Secretary of State’s office, which is more than the 997,139 valid signatures required for the measure to be eligible for a statewide vote in the 2022 ballot.

Said Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians tribal chairman Mark Macarro:

“This is an important step toward giving Californians the opportunity to participate in sports wagering while also establishing safeguards and protections against underage gambling.”

Largest Prize in U.S. Sports Betting Market

Despite already being late in the sports betting game, California is considered as the largest prize in the United States sports betting market. That’s because it is home to the most number of professional sports teams in the country, including five MLB teams, four NBA franchises, three NFL squads, and three NHL teams.

Legalization of California sports betting is expected to generate $1B in annual gross revenue without online sports betting which isn’t included in the tribal initiative. If expanded to include online wagering, California sports betting is projected to haul in $3B per year.

California Sports Betting

Under the constitutional amendment, California sports betting would be allowed at tribal casinos and state-licensed race tracks for persons aged 21 or older. Betting would be allowed on professional sports games, out-of-state college or amateur sporting events, but betting on high school athletic contests and games involving California college teams are prohibited.

California Sports Betting would be imposed a 10% tax on gross gaming revenue with the money going to public safety, mental health programs, education, and regulatory expenses. The measure would also allow the Native American owned casinos to offer roulette and craps.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission To Reconsider Roulette and Craps

MGM SpringfieldRoulette and Craps games may be coming back soon in the Bay State.

This development emerged after the  Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced that it will consider a request by by casinos to allow the restart of roulette and craps games which have not been permitted since the casinos were allowed to reopen early last month.

Reconsidering The Request

State regulators have been working with Encore and MGM on how the games can be played while maintaining social distancing between players and casino staff. The Commission is expected to  tackle the matter during a meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. via teleconference. 

In a statement last Tuesday, MGM said:

“We appreciate the Gaming Commission’s consideration of our request as we progress through a phased reopening with the health and safety of our employees and guests at the forefront of any decisions.”

MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor have asked the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to allow roulette and craps games at their establishments. The two are the only casinos in the state that offer table games. Despite the absence of roulette, craps, and poker, the casinos in Massachusetts have been able to handle the reopening well.

Massachusetts casinos were ordered closed by the state since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. They have since been allowed to re-open but subject to the strict guidelines set by the Gaming Commission. The guidelines have not permitted casinos to offer roulette, craps, and poker games.

Re-Opening Guidelines

The re-opening guidelines have resulted in the gambling establishments reopening with an estimated one-third of their pre-COVID 19 capacities. The Commission’s guidelines include plexiglass dividers, spacing requirements, wearing of masks when not outdoors, eating, or drinking, and other health safety precautions.

The guidelines also called on the casinos to disable some of their slot machines and remove chairs in order to keep their guests separated. The distance required was four feet apart if there is a plexiglass and six feet apart if none. The table games that were allowed were restricted to three players per table.

Food service has also been limited to designated areas and they are allowed to operate according to the state rules for restaurants. Casinos were also told to consider non-contact temperature checks and prohibiting entry to any guest who registered 100.4 or higher on two consecutive checks.

MGM Springfield reopened over the weekend of July 10-13 after four months of closure. Encore and Plainridge Park reopened several days earlier. Plainridge is a slots parlor that does not offer table games. In Springfield, that meant 919 gaming positions from 810 slot machines and 90 seats at table games. MGM later expanded its offerings to 855 slot machines while still maintaining social distancing.