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Betting could be coming to California soon if a group of 18 tribal casinos in the state have their way, as they’ve created a proposal to bring legalized sports wagering to their gaming establishments.
In a filing last week, a proposed bill filed by the tribal consortium set guidelines the tribal casinos would like on any passed legislation. The proposal comes on the heels of a sports betting measure introduced by state Senator Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray that would put their bill on the ballot for voters in 2020.
“Californians should have the choice to participate in sports wagering at highly regulated, safe and experienced gaming locations,” Mark Macarro, chairman of Pechanga, said in a statement.
“We are very proud to see tribes from across California come together for this effort, which represents an incremental but important step toward giving Californians the freedom to participate in this new activity in a responsible manner.”
By filing their proposition, the tribal casinos begin the process of gaining a title and summary for the initiative that would permit the group to begin the petition process for inclusion on the 2020 ballot as well.
With the ballot initiatives, California hopes to become one of the newest states to legalize sports betting. As it stands, 36 states have either legalized or are in the process of completing measures for approval.
Assemblyman Gray estimates that illegal betting in the United States is somewhere around $150 billion each year and their bill would work to diminish the black market in their state while helping increase funding for education through his legislation.
The tribal casino proposal would allow sports betting at all licensed racetracks in the state and at all 18 tribal-owned gaming locations.
The proposal by tribal casinos will find resistance by the state’s card rooms who have signaled a desire to offer betting to their customers, a suggestion that tribal leadership has significantly rejected.
“We would be disappointed at any initiative that allowed sports betting but that didn’t include card clubs,” said Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Assn. Kirkland admits that he has not read the proposal put forth by the tribal casinos and would consult with other members of the association before reaching a final decision on the group’s position.
The tribes’ legislation would tax 10% of the gross revenue taken from sports betting. That money would be earmarked for public safety and mental health programs as well as education and regulatory expenditures.
“A strong, well-regulated gaming industry is of utmost importance to California’s tribal governments and the public,” said Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Assn. “This initiative allows sports wagering in a responsible manner and provides for transparency and strict regulation.”
For the tribal casinos’ proposal to reach the 2020 ballot, the group will have to meet a threshold of 997,139 signatures from registered voters. The Native American tribes have suggested that this will not be an issue as the group has more than enough funding to sponsor a signature drive of this magnitude.
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