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California Sports Betting Initiative Receives Revamp

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Supporters of the California sports betting initiative have submitted important changes to their initial proposal to the state attorney general. These changes are significant as they aim not only to address concerns from tribes and regulators but also improve revenue sharing and inclusivity between the tribal communities.

Changes to Revenue Sharing and Inclusivity

A key aspect of changes is the increased revenue share for smaller tribes with limited or no gaming facilities. This decision strives to balance the economic opportunities among various tribal groups. Importantly, the revised initiative removes elements that were problematic for larger tribes, promoting a more cohesive approach among all parties involved.

In 2021, the initiative faced challenges from three California Indian tribes, who raised issues about offshore online gaming operators. The initiative’s backers responded by removing these controversial elements, showing their dedication to meeting the tribes’ specific concerns and expectations.

Significant changes in the final draft include increasing the operator revenue share dedicated to Revenue Sharing Trust Fund (RSTF) tribes to 25%, up from the earlier 10% meant for homelessness and mental health initiatives. Another notable change is the relaxation of the in-person sign-up requirement for online sports betting, which now transitions to mobile sign-ups within a 10-mile radius of land-based casinos after the first two years.

The proposal also introduces a phased-out approach for promotional credits, decreasing annually from 15% in the first year to zero over five years. Moreover, the start date for California’s online sports betting has been deferred to no earlier than July 1, 2025.

Proposals Still Opposed by CNIGA

Despite these amendments, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) has expressed strong opposition to two separate sports betting proposals, citing a lack of proper handling and emphasizing the tribes’ expertise in making decisions for their communities. Following a vote, CNIGA urged the proposals’ backers to withdraw them, as they had promised in the event of tribal opposition.

Looking ahead, the initiative for online gambling in California’s next milestones include the state’s fiscal estimate by December 18 and the attorney general’s release of a circulating title and summary by January 2. The supporters of the initiative, buoyed by the expectation of tribal backing, are ready to fund the entire campaign, affirming their commitment to a no-cost initiative for the tribes.

If passed, the initiative would amend the state constitution, allowing sports betting on various levels and types of sports, and would include sports betting in tribal compacts with the state. Additionally, it proposes legalizing craps and roulette at tribal casinos.

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