Card Room

  • Two cardrooms in California have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Shirley Weber; in the suit, the plaintiff claims that the ballot initiative violates California’s constitution.
  • There are four ballot initiatives currently being pushed – of these four, only the proposal that the cardrooms are suing over has been approved for the ballot.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two cardrooms in California, the Hollywood Park Casino and the Parkwest Casino Cordova, sued California Secretary of State Shirley Weber on Tuesday in an effort to invalidate a ballot initiative slated to be included on the 2022 ballot.

Potential Constitutional Issues With California Sports Betting Initiative

The ballot initiative – called “The California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act” – would legalize in-person sports wagering on tribal lands and at certain horse racing tracks.

In the lawsuit, the parties claim that the initiative violates a state mandate that all ballot measures be limited to just one subject. Because the initiative includes games such as roulette and dice as well as provisions governing private litigation, the plaintiffs claim that the initiative violates the state Constitution and confuses voters.

As a result, the plaintiffs have requested that the court responds swiftly in order to settle the dispute prior to the printing of the ballots in September.

Four Competing Sports Betting Ballot Initiatives

This ballot initiative is one of four dealing with sports betting that have been submitted to the state of California for the 2022 election cycle. Of the four to be officially submitted, only The California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act is slated to be on the ballot.

It is backed by four of California’s native tribes: the Barona, Pechanga, Yocha Dehe, and Agua Caliente tribes.

The second initiative, which is not yet approved to appear on the ballot, is “The Age-Verified Tribal Online and In-Person Sports Wagering & Homelessness Solutions Act.”

This initiative is similarly backed by four of California’s native tribes: The Wilton Rancheria Tribe, the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

The bill would similarly create a legal sports betting industry in California, but there are some major differences from the proposal already set to appear on the ballot.

This proposal would grant tribal entities the exclusive right to operate sports betting activities in California. The proposal would also allow for online sports betting in California through the state’s tribes.

Tax revenue from sports betting would be utilized for mental health services and to address California’s growing homelessness problem under the initiative.

Outside of the two initiatives proposed by the tribes, California’s cardrooms – which would not be eligible to operate sports betting activities under the tribes’ proposals – have proposed their own sports betting ballot initiative.

The cardrooms’ initiative would allow the state’s cardrooms to operate Las-Vegas-Style casino games; it would also allow the cardrooms, tribal facilities, and horse racing tracks among other entities to operate sports betting activities in California.

The final initiative is backed by nationwide sports betting giants FanDuel and DraftKings. This initiative would allow for in-person sports betting at tribal casinos. Under the proposal, these casinos could then partner with an existing online sportsbook company to offer legal online sports betting in California.

While it is fairly unlikely that all four proposals make it on the ballot, it is very possible that voters will be choosing from multiple competing sports betting initiatives in 2022.

Considering that the first two ballot initiatives are very similar and were both proposed by tribal entities, it is likely that one will be voluntarily pulled from the ballot if both initiatives are approved to avoid splitting the vote. However, since the other two proposals were submitted by competitors to California’s tribal entities, those proposals would likely remain on the ballot if approved and compete directly against whichever tribal initiative is settled on.

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