The Native American tribes of California are pushing for the legalization of sports betting in the state. 18 tribes in the state proposed an initiative on Wednesday to make athletic wagering legal.
A new bill up for ballot
The initiative by the tribes was led by Luiseno Indians’ Pechanga Band. Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray and Democratic Senator Bill Dodd have already introduced a sports betting bill that will be sent to the ballot in 2020.
Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro’s official statement read,
“We are very proud to see tribes from across California come together for this effort, which represents an incremental but important step toward giving Californians the freedom to participate in this new activity in a responsible manner.”
He said that residents of the state should have a choice to participate in sports betting but in a safe and regulated environment.
Papers related to the initiative were filed with the state attorney general’s office on Wednesday. The attorneys sought a title and summary for their proposal so they can start circulating petitions for the same. At present, 19 states in the US have legalized sports betting after the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA over a year ago. According to some estimates, the illegal sports betting market is valued at over $150 billion per year.
A new constitutional amendment
The tribes are proposing a constitutional amendment that will go on the November 2020 ballot. It seeks to bet on professional sports alongside college and amateur sports at the licensed racetracks and tribal gaming casinos. However, the bill doesn’t advocate betting on high school sporting events. Card clubs are expected to object to the proposal since it creates a narrow scope of sports betting and doesn’t allow it at their premises.
California Gaming Association president Kyle Kirkland said that the tribes’ initiative is disappointing because it doesn’t include betting at card clubs. However, he would only take a final position after consulting with his members.
The tribes want a 10% tax on sports betting GGR which will be utilized for mental health programs, regulatory cost management, education, and public safety. The initiative also includes a provision for introducing roulettes and craps at tribal casinos. The proposal now demands 997,139 signs from registered voters to bring the proposal to the ballot. Considering that the tribes are a politically well-off group with significant funding, they are expected to make the ballot relatively easily.