California’s North Bay Tribes Give Support to State’s Sports Betting Measure

Casinos in California
California’s North Bay tribes are supporting the state’s attempt to legalize sports betting at casinos on native lands.

Last month, the state’s sports betting measure qualified for the November 2022 ballot. If approved by the voters, it would allow legal California sports betting only in the state’s tribal casinos and its four licensed racetracks.The initiative would also allow roulette and dice games, including craps at casinos in Native American land.

California Tribes Have Contributed $11.5M

California’s Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, the owners of the largest casino in the Bay Area just outside of Rohnert Park, is the third largest contributor backing the campaign to legalize sports betting. According to campaign finance records, they have donated a total of $1.7M over the past 18 months. Overall, California tribes have poured in $11.5M to back the measure.

The Day Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians are also backing the sports betting bill but have not financially contributed to the campaign, although it hinted of doing so in the future. Meanwhile, the Lytton Band of Indians and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have declined to comment on their position on the measure.

A Potential Expensive Campaign Battle

The support of the North Bay tribes sets up a possible expensive campaign battle against cardrooms and online gambling companies who argue that the measure only expands the gaming monopoly of the tribes. Seven California card room operators have poured in $7M to oppose the measure.

The tribes, which have endured a long period of neglect and exploitation by the state and federal government, have since gained significant political and financial power. They are are prepared to go to war against online gaming companies for the right to operate sports betting in California.

Sports Betting Worth Tens of Millions of Dollars

The California measure would permit gamblers to place legal wagers on professional sports games as well as collegiate and amateur sporting events except high school games and those involving California-based collegiate teams.

Under the initiative, horse tracks would be levied a 10% sports betting tax while tribal casinos would be required to pay a portion of their sports betting gaming revenues to at least cover regulatory costs. Lawmakers estimate that the legalization of sports betting would create tens of millions of dollars in annual tax income for the state.

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.