Cardrooms in California Continue to Oppose the Tribal Sports Betting Initiative

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On Wednesday, organizations from several cities across California, which includes the state’s biggest cardrooms, announced their opposition to a tribe-backed initiative. The initiative would legalize retail sports betting at tribal casinos.

A Battle in California is Taking Place Over Sports Betting

There’s no doubt that cardrooms want a legal sports betting market in the Golden State as the cardroom filed their own initiative. However, they failed to collect enough signatures to push the effort to the next stage.

The card rooms have turned to the judicial system, where they have battled and expressed their concerns in court with the tribes recently over the referendum. The tribal proposition would give them more power to sue the cardrooms for offering certain types of card games.

Giving the power to sue cardrooms for alleged violations of the Penal Code that would destroy their business. Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies stated in a press release that establishing a legal sports betting market through the tribal measure puts “more than 32,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in total economic impact at risk.”

The tribal measure is the only one approved for November’s ballot at this moment. Three other initiatives involve mobile and retail sports betting, but more signatures are needed. One of the initiatives is pushed by the cardrooms.

Why Cardrooms are Opposed to the Tribal Initiative

Four cardrooms combined to donate more than $14 million to the opposition effort. This is how much each of the four cardrooms contributed to the effort:

  • California Commerce Club: $5,085,001
  • Hawaiian Gardens Casino: $5,085,000
  • Park West Casinos: $2,085,000
  • The Bicycle Hotel & Casino: $2,085,000

Other cardrooms host cities oppose the initiative, including 74 represented by the California Contract Cities Association. The organizations believe that having the tribal initiative on the upcoming ballot would harm local communities.

Marcel Rodarte, who is the executive director of the California Contract Cities Association, stated in the press release that the tribal initiative “Exploits the Private Attorneys General Act, opening the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits that will harm city revenues that fund vital city services such as roads, schools, homelessness services, and fire protection.”

On the other hand, the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming is a tribal group that supports the initiative and believes that the cardrooms have been the issue. The group stated, the cardrooms” Have one of the worst if not worst records of noncompliance in the United States with gambling laws, including those designed to guard against crimes like money laundering. That’s why they’ve been fined millions of dollars in recent years for violations like misleading regulators.”

Three Initiatives Need Support to be Placed on the 2022 Ballot

Time is running out for the three initiatives to be placed on the bill, as they need nearly one million signatures by the end of June. The initiative backed by the cardrooms might have lost steam as it hasn’t been able to collect at least 25 percent of the required number of signatures.

It would have opened mobile sports betting licenses for all parties involved by giving licenses todraftkingsprimary cardrooms and tribal casinos, including professional sports franchises and horse tracks. There is an initiative that is backed by reputable sportsbook operators that include BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel.

They contributed a combined total of $100 million towards that initiative. A second tribal initiative is backed by four tribes that include online sports betting. It hit the 25 percent mark for the required number of signatures in early March.

It is very unclear how Californians will vote in the upcoming election. In a recent poll, 45 percent support sports betting to 33 percent don’t. However, 22 percent of voters are undecided, which can heavily affect the results.

If California establishes a sports betting market, it most likely becomes a more lucrative market than New York as approximately 40 million people call the state home compared to nearly 20 million in New York.