Try, Try Again: Suit To Stop Tribal California Sports Betting Measure Refiled

Written By Matthew Waters on March 8, 2022
California sports betting

A second lawsuit to prevent legal sports betting at California tribal casinos has been filed, and it is the same as the first.

Hollywood Park and the Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova cardroom operators are suing to challenge the legality of the approved ballot measure to expand gaming on tribal lands.

The initiative would legalize retail California sportsbooks. It would also allow dice and ball games at those tribal casinos, which is where the lawsuit comes into play.

California sports betting initiative not singularly focused?

The cardrooms want to see the approved ballot initiative thrown out because it violates California’s constitution, the suit alleges. Those initiatives can only contain one subject, according to the suit.

The suit was initially filed on an emergency basis with the California Supreme Court but was not heard.

Both cardrooms have bigger concerns than just missing out on added revenue, though. The suit alleges passing the initiative would give tribal casino operators the right to sue cardrooms for “alleged violations of the Penal Code,” which could jeopardize their businesses.

Tribes and cardrooms in California have long disagreed over what cardrooms can offer.

‘Unconstitutional initiative’ will cause confusion

The suit says it is in the best interest of California voters to address the “unconstitutional initiative” now because of others still looking for signatures:

The impending placement of this unconstitutional Initiative on the same ballot prejudices the ability of these other initiatives to be approved by voters and even to qualify for the ballot by the certification deadline of June 30, 2022, because the presence of this Initiative will confuse voters about the need for those measures and undermine the initiative process overall.

There are two other CA sports betting initiatives trying to make the ballot in November.

Two more California sports betting initiatives

One initiative comes from cardroom operators but loops in multiple businesses for mobile or retail betting licenses. Tribal casinos, horse racing tracks and pro teams could join cardrooms in holding those licenses.

The other initiative includes support from seven US sports betting operators:

Four California mayors threw their support behind the sportsbook-backed measure. Three tribes, however, are pushing back.

Whether or not any initiative passes could come down to currently undecided voters. A recent poll found California voters supported sports betting 45% to 33%, though another 22% are undecided.

Coalition not concerned by lawsuit

The tribal-backed Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming is not concerned with the refiled “frivolous” suit, according to a spokesperson:

“The California State Supreme Court recently dismissed this frivolous case and we are confident the lower court will side with us also. Card room casino operators and their financial backers must be desperate to avoid having to follow California’s responsible gaming laws.

“Card room casinos are frequent violators of California gaming laws and have been fined more than $8 million for misleading state regulators and violating anti-money laundering laws.

“We’re confident California voters will see through their deceptive and wasteful tactics and continue to stand with California Tribes whom they have entrusted to provide safe, responsible gaming for over two decades.”

Matthew Waters Avatar
Written by
Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

View all posts by Matthew Waters
Privacy Policy