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California Sports Betting Battle Heating Up

Voters in the state of California will have a pair of ballot measures to look at in November when it comes to legalizing sports betting. Each ballot measure is different from the other option, but both could actually be approved by the voters.

Native American tribes in the state have been able to get a question on the ballot that would allow them to offer retail sports betting at their casino properties. Online betting would not be a part of this offer, and the entire industry would flow through the tribes.

Sportsbook operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel are hoping that voters pass a measure that would legalize online sports betting. This group is fine with letting the tribes offer retail betting, but they at least want a chance to operate in the state.

Ad campaigns have already started, and the Native American tribes took the first shot, specifically at DraftKings and FanDuel. The sportsbooks that have banded together are calling their initiative “Californians for Solutions to Homelessness.”

According to the plan that was proposed by this group, 85% of online sports betting tax revenue would be devoted to helping fight homelessness in the state. Native American tribes that were not offering sports betting would be eligible to receive the other 15%.

BetMGM is another one of the big financial backers of this measure, and the list also includes companies such as Bally’s, Fanatics, Penn National, and WynnBET. Each company is preparing to spend up to $100 million in campaign funds to help ensure that this measure passes in November.

Smaller Tribes Chasing Partnerships

There are more than 100 Native American tribes in California that are federally recognized, and only about a quarter of those support a full retail sports betting option. The biggest tribes have banded together, but the smaller tribes have started to announce a commitment to the “Californians for Solutions to Homelessness” campaign.

The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe have all publicly announced their support of the online sports betting plan. One of the biggest reasons for this is that each tribe could form a partnership with a sportsbook operator to set up a retail sportsbook as well.

Sportsbook operators have expressed optimism that the two measures can pass and then work together, but the Native American tribes are uninterested in a compromise.

Card Rooms Still Left Out

One group that won’t be a part of the sports betting scene in the state of California is the card rooms that are located throughout the state. Leaders of card rooms fought hard to be included in sports betting legislation, but lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement.

Tribal leaders fought back against allowing card rooms to be a part of any sports betting industry, and the sportsbook operators have not included them either. Card rooms in California already have very strict rules about the games that they can offer, and they are going to be even more limited if there is no sports betting on-site.

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