With California sports betting on the ballot this November, voters are busy trying to decide which initiative to support: a tribal-led in-person sports betting initiative under Prop 26, or a sportsbook-led online sports betting initiative under Prop 27.
They may also want to look ahead to 2024. That’s when another tribal-led sports betting initiative hopes to qualify for the California statewide ballot.
Like Prop 26, the proposed initiative would put control of sports betting in the hands of California gaming tribes. Unlike Prop 26, it would allow both in-person and online sportsbooks, with online sports betting allowed statewide.
Chances that the initiative could pass into law, however, are uncertain. The best indicator of its possible success could be what happens at the polls in November.
What Is the CA Tribal-Led Initiative Vying for the 2024 Ballot?
The Age-Verified Tribal In-Person and Online Sports Wagering Regulatory Act Initiative was filed with the state of California in 2021. Proponents of the initiative are three tribal nations that filed the initiative last year. An undetermined number of other tribes, tribal organizations, and non-tribal entities also back the effort.
Petition signatures were still being collected for the initiative as of August, with only 25% of the required 997,139 valid petition signatures certified so far. That prevents the initiative from making the ballot this year.
But the proposal still has a chance to make the next California general election ballot in two years.
Here is a rundown of what the initiative would do, pending approval of voters and federal approval of amended tribal-state gaming compacts between federally recognized tribes and California:
- Legal in-person sports betting, roulette, and dice games at tribal casinos, offered by tribal operators.
- Legal statewide online sports betting via servers located inside tribal casinos.
- Tribes may contract with online sports betting operators. Those operators could receive up to 40% of adjusted gross gaming revenue per agreement with the tribes.
- Tribes operating online sports wagering must contribute 15% of their net online sports betting revenue to a Tribal Sports Wagering Revenue Sharing Trust Fund established by the state. Funds will be used to benefit non-gaming and limited-gaming tribes.
- Tribes operating online sports wagering must also contribute 10% of their net online sports betting revenue to a newly created California Homelessness and Mental Health Fund established by the state.
- No sports betting on high school sports and high school athletic events.
- An individual would have to be at least 21 years old to place a sports wager, in-person or online. Sports betting advertisements or marketing would only be allowed where the audience is “reasonably expected” to be 21 years of age or older.
REMAINING NEUTRAL: Why Caesars Sportsbook Isn’t Picking Sides in Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 Battle
Would Prop 27 Stop Any Chance to Pass a CA Tribal Online Sports Betting Initiative?
Prop 27 would legalize online sports betting in California ahead of 2024 should it pass this year. That would allow big-name sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings to launch (albeit through tribal partnerships, as required by Prop 27) long before the tribal online sports betting initiative even went on the ballot.
It could even make the proposed 2024 tribal initiative moot. That may lead tribes to withdraw the proposed initiative from ballot consideration altogether.
Would California Tribes Backing Prop 26 Support Online Sports Betting in 2024?
Prop 26 became eligible for the 2022 California statewide ballot in May 2021, months before the petition for online tribal sports betting initiative began to circulate. But the 30-plus gaming tribes behind Prop 26 may still support the proposed tribal initiative in 2024. Especially if they have plans to launch online sports betting in the future.
That support likely hinges on whether Prop 27 passes this year, and what parts of Prop 27 and Prop 26 are left standing by the courts should both initiatives make it into law. Beating out top sports betting brands would certainly give tribes an edge.
What If All 3 CA Sports Betting Initiatives Pass in 2022 and 2024?
California law allows more than one initiative on the same issue to appear on a general election ballot. According to CalMatters, the proposition — or prop — with the most votes wins. If more than one proposition receives over 50% of the vote, then both or all win, although the proposition with the most votes takes precedence where provisions conflict. That would allow portions of both Prop 26 and Prop 27 to take effect should both receive a majority of the statewide vote on Nov. 8.
Passage of the online tribal sports betting initiative (should it qualify for the ballot in 2024) would impact existing law. How it would conflict with any provisions passed this fall would almost certainly be left to the state courts.