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Sports betting in California? Several ballot initiatives aim to do just that, but they are very different

One proposition would allow sports betting on Native American land. Another would allow online sports betting from anywhere in the state.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday. The golden state is also home to the most professional sports teams in the country, but sports betting is illegal.

That however could soon change with several — four to be exact — 2022 ballot propositions and initiatives. One proposition that has already qualified for the ballot would allow sports betting on Native American land. Another, which is still in the process of collecting signatures to be on the ballot, would allow online sports betting from anywhere in the state.

The parties involved are not risking their odds on a game of luck. Hundreds of millions of dollars will likely be invested into the sports betting proposals.

“I think this is going to be record spending, this is an important issue,” said Kathy Fairbanks who represents the “Coalition for Safe and Responsible gaming.” They wrote the measure to allow sports betting only in person on tribal land. 

While tribes would run it, she said the state benefits. 

“It will help create jobs and it will provide 10s of millions of dollars to the state for the general fund to pay for state priorities like education and transportation, and things like that.”

She said the other online-betting measure will require giants like Draft Kings to work with a tribe, in a compact approved by the legislature. 

“Now you've got the legislature involved in discussions between tribes," she said. "And that undermines tribal sovereignty.”

Around 10% of the money from the measure that includes online as well as tribal lands will go towards homelessness and mental health in California.

“Why don't we legalize something that's already happening on the black market, that states have already legalized, and use that money to help solve homelessness," said Spokesperson for the initiative Nathan Click. 

Click said there are multiple measures to help ensure the money is being directed towards homelessness. 

"There's a claw-back protection, the state can actually claw back money that's misused for something other than homelessness. The state can sue counties, they can sue cities, and they can sue individuals who misuse this money," he said. 

“We're seeing the Super Bowl here in the state of California. Imagine if we had online sports betting. We could be generating millions in just one week's time to help solve homelessness," he said. 

He said consumers love the convenience of it too. They want to be able to watch a game and bet.

In response to the easy access to betting, Kathy Fairbanks said studies have shown that online sports betting leads to more addiction, and in turn, more homelessness. 

"So they're creating a fund to address homelessness, by creating more homelessness in the first place," he said.

Click said the online programs already in place in the 21 other states are working.

The online sports betting initiative is still in the process of getting signatures. It has 25% of what it needs, but both agree it will most likely qualify for the ballot.

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