California Online Sports Betting Initiative will Officially Make 2022 Ballot

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2022 08:00 PM
California Online Sports Betting Initiative will Officially Make 2022 Ballot

Though California continues to be among the places in the United States that has yet to legalize sports betting, the issue is officially on track to make the 2022 November ballot. That means sports betting could be legal in California by the beginning of 2023. But that's assuming the measure passes.

While legal sports betting in California has not yet taken effect, that appears on track to change this November. That's right: The California online sports betting initiative will officially make the 2022 ballot, which means residents of the state will get to vote on whether they want to legalize sports gambling. 

Of course, just because sports betting is on the ballot doesn't mean it will pass. Then again, if polls from earlier this year are to be believed, California voters are largely in favor of legal sports betting.

This all begs the question: So, what's next?

Breaking Down 2022 California Sports Betting Bill

For months upon months, it has seemed fairly certain that a variety of sports betting bills would make California's 2022 ballot. But the first one to pass through was the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Support initiative. They needed to get nearly 1 million signatures to crack the ballot, and they wound up doing so with flying colors.

Under the terms of this bill, 85 percent of the state's sports betting revenue will go to the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Support account, so you can understand the appeal it is expected to have with voters.

It also helps that the backers of this proposal were so aggressive in campaigning for it. Seven big-time sportsbooks funded it—Bally's, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics Betting and Gaming, FanDuel, Penn National/Barstool Sportsbook, and Wynn—and they have collectively contributed more than $100 million to the cause.

As part of the bill, there would be a 10 percent tax rate assessed to all sportsbooks operating within the state, making it one of the more middling fees relative to legal sports betting in the USA. Finally, the initiative also stipulates that online sports betting in California would be presented without restrictions. Everyone within the state would be able to place an online wager.

Other Sports Betting Initiatives Could Make 2022 California Ballot

Though the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Support initiative is the first proposal to get the green light for this November's voting, it won't be the last. There are a couple of tribal-funded options that could appear on the 2022 ballot, as well.

The most popular among them is underwritten by a collection of tribes that have already committed $100 million to their campaign, too. This proposal has gained traction by pointing out that the corporate-funded initiative will "export money from the state of California" by funneling it into those who don't operate within the region.

Furthermore, there's another group of tribes backing a separate measure that consists of $250 million in future pledges to the state. This option has not received as much attention in recent months, but it remains in the running to make the ballot.

Will the Current California Sports Betting Bill Pass in 2022?

To be honest, it's very tough to answer this question right now. There have been so many twists and turns throughout this process that it'd be almost irresponsible to venture a guess.

It absolutely matters that early projections have nearly 60 percent of registered California voters supporting the legal sports betting initiative already on the ballot. But that response could change if they're presented with other options. Remember: This may not be a binary decision in which residents are choosing between no sports betting and actual sports betting. Depending on how the ballot shakes out, California voters could opt for the initiative that limits sportsbooks licenses to a select number of tribal casinos, not unlike what happened in Florida before they repealed their decision at the end of 2021.

At the same time, if we had to guess, we'd wager on the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Support initiative earning the victory this November. Part of that is because it could theoretically be the only option on the ballot. More than that, the argument being made within the tribal proposals isn't particularly strong.

In theory, campaigning on the idea that offering exclusivity or priority to tribes will keep more money flowing throughout the state is rock-solid logic. But here's the thing: Whether you care to admit it or not, sports betting is already happening in California. Residents cannot simply select an option from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks and start submitting wagers, but you better believe they're still placing bets across state lines and even with illegal bookies. That isn't going to change if the state grants exclusivity to the tribes. Their specialty has been on-site wagering in casinos. For the most part, they don't have the entrenched online infrastructure with sports betting apps to match the reach of competitors like FanDuel, Draft Kings, and Caesars, among others.

The 2022 ballot could play out differently if the campaign being pushed by the corporate sportsbooks weren't resonating with the public. But they've run on a relatable platform by breaking down how the tax revenue will be distributed. And more than anything else, it's a big deal that the sportsbook-backed initiative is the first—and so far only—proposal to make the ballotThat has to mean something because it would not normally expect that to be the case in a state that has shown so much resistance to legal sports betting in the past. All of this is good news for California residents hoping to have legal sports betting in their state by 2023.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for you and in your area:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read more here.