California · Politics

California voters to decide on sports betting at tribal casinos, race tracks in 2022

An initiative to determine if Californians can engage in sports betting activities at tribal casinos and race tracks has cleared the necessary threshold of signatures to appear on the November 2022 ballot, California voting officials announced Thursday.

More than 1 million California voters signed a petition to place the initiative on the ballot, with 997,139 being deemed valid by California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber.

The initiative, spearheaded by California’s Federally-recognized Native American tribes, would expand gambling operations at their casinos to include formal roulette (which is allowed in an alternative format to its Las Vegas counterpart), dice games, along with sports wagering.

The measure also allows privately-operated horse racing tracks in four counties across the state to allow on-site sports wagering following the initiative’s approval.

On-site sports wagering profits at horse-racing tracks would be subject to a 10 percent tax.

The measure is likely to be one of the most contentious next year, with the state’s privately-operated cardrooms and Las Vegas casinos undoubtedly ready to weigh in with hefty campaigns.

Last legislative session, Sen. Bill Dodd (D–Napa) and Asm. Adam Gray (D–Merced) floated a state constitutional amendment that allowed sports betting, roulette, and dice games in tribal casinos, but also allowed cardrooms some additional latitude on particular games.

The inclusion of cardrooms, ultimately, led to the amendment’s demise due to insufficient support from the state’s tribal gaming industry.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.