A poll released on Friday showed strong support for one of three California sports betting initiatives that could make the November 2022 ballot.
Fifty-nine percent of the 1,600 registered voters interviewed between March 29th and April 4th by David Binder Research indicated they would vote yes on the Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act, while 28% said they would vote no and 13% were undecided.
The initiative is backed by seven sports betting companies: FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, WynnBET, Bally Bet, Barstool Sportsbook, and Fanatics. If approved, the act would allow gaming companies and Native American tribes to provide online sports betting across the state.
Backers of the Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act claim that hundreds of millions of dollars would be earmarked to fund programs for the homeless and mental health services. Native American tribes that are not involved in sports betting would also receive 15% of the taxes raised from sports betting.
The cost of doing business
One part of the act that could prevent smaller sports betting companies from entering the California market is the proposed $100 million licensing fee, which is far higher than the $25 million entry charge in New York, for example.
Critics have said the fee will prevent any startups from entering the California market, but Nathan Click, former communications director for California Gov. Gavin Newsom and representative for the sports-betting initiative, said in a statement that the fee will be a benefit to the state.
“(The fee provides) significant revenue to fund homelessness housing and mental health treatment and provide financial support for California Tribal nations," Click wrote in a statement. “California is best served by creating a safe and tightly regulated sports betting market, one where customers can know they are working with experienced platforms with a proven track record of safe and responsible operation in other markets."
Race for the ballot
This will all be moot if the initiative fails to get the required 997,139 verified signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot. Those signatures need to be turned into the Secretary of State’s office no later than Tuesday.
In January, representatives indicated they had 25% of the required signatures, but have given no other updates.
One sports-betting initiative is already on the ballot. It is supported by all but three Native American tribes in the state and would allow for sportsbooks only at retail casinos and race tracks.
The three tribes that broke away from the others want mobile sports betting via their own ballot measure, something the other act does not allow but presents a possibility for in the future. Their initiative still needs the requisite amount of signatures to get on the ballot and no update has been provided on their status.
At the annual Indian Gaming Association Conference last week in Anaheim, CA, members of the tribes were aligned in their opposition to the Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act. They also warned in a panel discussion against their two initiatives competing, which they say could cause the demise of any sports betting proposition in November.
“It’s disappointing. It’s confusing to voters,” Cody Martinez, chairman of the San Diego-area Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation said.
There is already some confusion over which way voters are leaning, as other sports betting-related polls have suggested public opinion is more divided on the subject.
James Siva, vice chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Riverside County, said he hopes the opposing tribes can work out their differences before the election, saying it might spell doom for sports betting if they don’t.
“I think it’s a small, small possibility they all pass,” Siva said. “I think it’s much more likely that all three ultimately fail because of voter confusion.”