Changes Have Been Proposed to Latest California Sports Betting Bills

Changes Have Been Proposed to Latest California Sports Betting Bills

Amendments to freshly proposed California sports betting bills have been proposed by the primary sponsors. The changes, if successful, are largely aimed at convincing the state’s tribes to support the bills. But will the alterations be enough?

The early indications aren’t promising. State tribes previously voted to staunchly oppose the California sports betting initiatives brought about by businessmen with no active connections to the state’s tribes. The manner in which the proposals were filed has rubbed many throughout the community in the wrong way. Multiple outlets have since reported that the sponsors did not consult the tribes before moving forward with their sports gambling initiatives.

This attempt to adjust the filings speaks to the importance of tribal support. There most likely won’t ever be sports betting in California unless they co-sign or spearhead the structure behind it.

That much was made clear during the 2022 general elections. A bill that would have legalized online sports betting in California was roundly opposed by members of the House of Representatives and Senate and was ultimately thoroughly beaten at the polls.

Of course, the bill in question (Proposition 27) still had the support necessary to make it through the House and Senate and appear on the ballot. But as soon as California tribes mounted countercampaigns against Prop 27, state officials essentially got behind them. And while voters still opposed the tribal proposed bill (Proposition 26), the measure received a higher approval rating than its counterpart.

To that end, the 2024 California sports betting initiatives probably have no shot at making it past the House and Senate without tribal backing. Will the amendments made to the initial filings be enough to sway tribal sentiment? Let’s find out.

Full Details on the Changes Being Proposed to the Newest California Sports Betting Measures

The specifics of the proposed amendments have started to emerge. Let’s outline them below, in bullet-point form:

Tribes that participate in California sports betting would need to “contribute 25 percent of adjusted sports wagering gross gaming revenue to the tribal sports wagering revenue sharing trust fund.” The initial proposal called for a 15 percent contribution, in addition to a 10 percent contribution to the California homeless and mental health fund. The sponsors of the bill are hoping the larger contribution to tribal funds will resonate with the tribes themselves.

  • Legal sports betting in California would roll out no earlier than July 1, 2025. The first edition had the date set at September 1, 2025.
  • Promotional deductions for California sports betting operators would decline over a five-year window. Credits for wagers placed using bonuses would start at 15 percent in Year 1 and then decrease by 3 percent each following year until hitting 0 percent.
  • Every proposal allows for online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. However, there will be new stipulations on how customers sign up. For the first two years, “in person registration is required to open an online sports betting account in California.” Bettors could also “open an online account by signing up within 10 miles of a tribal casino.” After July 1, 2027, though, players would be able to sign up for a California online sports betting account from anywhere in the state.

Other changes are sprinkled throughout the latest update, as well. But they don’t matter nearly as much as the tribal reaction to these above California sports betting amendments.

California Tribes Remain Against the Most Recent Sports Gambling Measures

As it turns out, the amendments made to the 2024 California sports betting measures did not change how the tribes feel about them. In a joint statement from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and Wilton Rancheria, the alterations and initiatives at large were thoroughly criticized. Here’s what they had to say (via Legal Sports Report):

“The backers of the Walz Initiative hijacked the Tribal Online & In-Person Sports Wagering Initiative to enable the illegal multibillion dollar offshore online sports betting industry to monetize and profit from their operations. As a result, our three tribes oppose this measure and believe the voters should be made aware of its true intent. This problematic new language advances the agenda of offshore online gaming operators to exploit and monetize their illicit assets.” 

Stances don’t get more definitive than this. It is not, however, immediately clear how the latest efforts to legalize California sports betting directly benefit illicit gaming operators. Perhaps the language referenced in the above statement isn’t public. It certainly stands to reason that the tribes would have more information on licensing plans.

Will Another California Sports Betting Bill be Proposed in 2024?

Regardless, this statement all but ensures California sports betting in 2024 won’t have the support necessary to advance past the initial rounds of consideration. If a measure is going to make the next electoral ballot, it’ll have to come from the tribes or sponsors who work directly with them to craft a new bill.

Whether an alternative measure is in play remains to be seen. The tribes have been a little cagey on their plans—or lack thereof—to introduce another California sports betting bill

Forced to choose, we’d expect them to come up with something before the state legislature convenes. The prospect of California sports betting revenue is far too lucrative for them to attempt nothing

For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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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...

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