Four California mayors have lent their support to the ballot initiative that would legalize online sports betting in California.
The mayors issued a joint release on Tuesday, saying the measure would provide hundreds of millions in funding for homelessness and mental health services.
The new backers included:
- Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer
- Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia
- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
- Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
- Several homelessness charities
“If we permit and regulate online sports betting, California residents should benefit from it,” said Tomiquia Moss, the founder of charity All Home, in the email received by LSR. “Twenty-one other states have already made this decision, our state should be next. The funding this measure provides would provide a huge lift for efforts to deliver housing and support to people experiencing homelessness and make us all better off.”
Additionally, there are two other CA sports betting initiatives that could make it on to the ballot:
- A tribal-backed question that would authorize retail betting only
- A cardroom-backed question that would give them a slice of sports betting
How CA sports betting got here
The ballot initiative was filed back in August and backed by seven US sportsbooks. Those sportsbooks are:
- Fanatics Betting & Gaming
- Penn National/Barstool Sportsbook
The initiative aims to legalize online CA sports betting via referendum with a percentage of revenue going to fight homelessness.
The initiative needs just less than 1 million signatures to make the ballot in 2022.
What would CA sports betting look like?
The initiative itself has drawn criticism for proposing an anti-competitive market.
For example, one clause says operators would have to be licensed in at least 10 other US states.
That potentially prohibits smaller operators from entering the CA market.
What do CA tribes think?
Another key question is tribal support. The tribes have long said that California sports betting will not happen without their say so.
Their initial reaction to the initiative was tentatively positive.
The initiative was also amended in October to specify that operators needed a tribal partner.
California might be the biggest prize
Sportsbook operators pledged more than $100 million to support the initiative. That might be a drop in the bucket, because California is potentially the largest sports wagering market in the US.
It boasts more than 40 million residents and a robust sports ecosystem.
To that end, Eilers & Krejcik projects retail-only sports betting would generate $200 million for the state. An expansion to online sportsbooks could increase sports betting revenue to $503 million.