Last week, a group of Native American tribes filed a ballot measure for the 2020 election, which will amend the state’s constitution to legalize sports betting in the Golden State. The bill would tax land-based wagering revenue at 10% and mobile revenue at 15%, with betting licensees also required to contribute 1% of revenue for responsible gambling programs.

Additionally, Licenses would cost $5m with an additional $1m for a mobile wagering option. Significantly, the proposal would allow wagering only through tribal casino operators and state racetracks. The proposed constitutional amendment by state Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray needs to secure the approval of two-thirds of legislators in both of their respective chambers by June 25.

The disparity between cardrooms and tribal casinos has mounted in the past weeks as the tribes have begun re-launching their gaming operations while the cardrooms await the state’s approval. About 18 different California tribes, including the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, support the measure.

In a statement, Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro of Southern California’s Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians said:

“Californians should have the choice to participate in sports wagering at highly regulated, safe, and experienced gaming locations. 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.”

The pols recommend allowing the cardrooms to maintain their so-called ‘player-banked’ games that have so enraged the tribes, who are supposed to hold a monopoly on ‘house-banked’ card games like blackjack and baccarat. In a way to appease the tribes, the pols intend allowing the tribes to add non-card casino games like craps and roulette.

However, CNIGA chair James Siva said his members were vehemently opposed to including an expansion of gaming to a segment of the gaming industry that has proved, for decades, to be unwilling to follow the rule and regulations that guaranteed a fair and safe gambling environment, and that complied with federal laws designed to stop money laundering.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the tribal ballot initiative’s quest for the required 1m signatures may not be possible. As a result, California bettors may have to wait a little longer for a legal wagering opportunity.


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