California Online Sports Betting Backers Believe They’ll Have ‘Overwhelming Support’ in November

California Online Sports Betting Backers Believe They’ll Have ‘Overwhelming Support’ in November
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The state of California will likely have two sports betting initiatives on its ballot this fall.

The two initiatives are vastly different. And if both pass, the two measures would simultaneously control California sports betting.

Both initiatives submitted the roughly 1 million signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, while a third ballot drive funded by the state’s card rooms fell short.

The California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative would allow retail sports betting at tribal casinos. It already has its spot on the November ballot.

The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act, which has received support from mobile sports betting mainstays like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, would allow mobile sports betting in California. The online initiative is in the process of having its submitted signatures verified.

Nathan Click, who serves as the spokesperson for the online sports betting initiative, recently spoke with BetCalifornia.com about the measure and what it hopes to accomplish.  

Below is a transcript of that conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.

Online Betting Group Had Strong Petition Drive

BetCalifornia.com: We’re around six months from election day. How are you guys feeling?

Nathan Click: We're feeling good. We submitted 1.6 million signatures to county registrars across the state. They're going through the process of verifying those. We only needed about 1.1 million signatures, and the counties that have come back are reporting that we're at a much higher validity rate than we need. So, we're confident we're going to be on the ballot. And we're excited about the prospect.

BetCalifornia.com: Obviously a lot can happen between now and Election Day. What are some of the things your side is going to do between now and November to make sure you’re in the best position to get your initiative across the finish line?

Click: We’re confident that Californians will understand our initiatives, that they'll have the facts around our initiatives. And what we've seen is when they're presented with what our initiative does, and the support it provides the state, they overwhelmingly support our measure. They supported the question of legalized online sports betting. And they say, ‘if we're going to do it, we might as well tax that revenue, regulate it, and funnel it towards our state's toughest challenge, which is homelessness.’

Right now there's no permanent source of tax revenue for fighting homelessness, even though it's the biggest problem that we face in the state. So, this would fill that hole in our state budget, and it's something that Californians overwhelmingly support.

BetCalifornia.com: What’s unique about the online sports betting initiative in your opinion?

Click: I think what we're seeing on the ground is Californians are overwhelmingly supportive of this initiative. They see what's happening in other states around online sports betting. They see what's happening on the black market, how billions of dollars leave the state of California every year to these offshore, online sports betting websites that are based in places like Latvia that offer no consumer protections, no age verification and offer no revenue to the state.

And why should we allow that when we can create a safe and responsible sports betting marketplace here in the state of California, tax it and use that revenue to help solve our biggest challenges? I think it's a win-win-win.

Online, Retail Sports Betting Bills Could Co-Exist

BetCalifornia.com: What would the future of sports betting in California look like if both the online and tribal sports betting measures pass this fall?

Click: So, wrote explicitly into our measure, that we're only focused on online sports betting, and that our measure is complementary to the in-person tribal measure, which mostly focuses exclusively on in-person sports betting.

The online sports betting measure would create hundreds of millions of dollars each year in homelessness funding and funding to help expand mental health treatment options in the state of California and fund addiction services.

We're very confident in our measure, and we think it provides the best path forward for the state of California. And so that means when voters hit the ballot box, they have the potential to vote for two sports betting measures that can pass simultaneously.

BetCalifornia.com: If your initiative passes, what are some of the fiscal projections that you have about the potential of sports betting in California?

Click: So, in California, we have an independent legislative analyst, who is a government body. They analyze every piece of legislation, every ballot measure that's proposed in the state of California. They score it kind of like the Congressional Budget Office. They say how much it would either cost the state, or how much revenue it would generate.

So, these independent fiscal experts looked at our measure and said it would raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year in funding to help fight homelessness, and to expand mental health treatment in the state of California, which is a huge number that can create tens of thousands of permanent housing slots and help the people who are experiencing mental health and addiction issues, get treatment each year.

And what the folks who are on the front line of our homelessness crisis in the state will tell you is that what is so critical about this funding is that it's a permanent funding source that you can rely upon year after year, and that you can build big projects and fund services with and count on that money to kind of do bigger and better things in ending homelessness.

So, for all those reasons, we've got a number of mayors who are supporting our initiative, folks in Oakland, Long Beach, Fresno — as well as internet service providers, some of the biggest ones in the state, who are standing with our measure and saying it would provide a lot of much needed support to fight this.

BetCalifornia.com: Obviously, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon all have already launched online sports betting. What kind of example did states like Arizona have in the process, and what can Californians take away from the success that we’ve seen in those states?

Click: I think that 24 states have legalized online sports betting, and they're proving that you can do so safely and responsibly and create real revenue to help solve local problems. They see what's happening right here in the state of California, where people are spending billions of dollars on those offshore illegal [sports betting] websites that are based overseas, that provide no revenue for the state. They have no age verification. They are fundamentally unsafe enterprises. And they say, ‘you know, if that activity is already happening in the state of California, we're losing money off this unsafe option. Why don't we highly regulate it like nearly half the country has done and create real revenue for the state?

BetCalifornia.com: What’s your parting shot for those that read this article?

Click: We're confident in our measure. We think it provides the best path forward for the state of California and all the stakeholders in this state.

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Contributors

Christopher Boan
Reporter / Journalist

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetCalifornia.com, specializing in sports betting issues in the western United States. He's covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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