SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sports fans in California could soon legally bet on games like Sunday night’s NFC Championship.
Legalizing sports wagering in California is the goal for many, but there are a few separate teams trying to do it. Those teams are ready to raise money and spend big bucks to make sure voters choose their specific plan on the November ballot, which could generate tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars a year that would flow into California’s economy.
The first team is nicknamed the “Tribal Measure.” It would allow sports wagering to be legal in California but in person and only at tribal casinos and privately-owned horsetracks in four specific counties.
“Our initiative offers safe, responsible sports betting,” said Kathy Fairbanks, the measure’s spokesperson.
The “Tribal Measure” has already qualified to be on November’s ballot and if passed, would go into effect by the end of the year.
“There are strict controls on who can get it. You have to be 21, obviously,” Fairbanks said. “We’ll be able to monitor who’s doing the sports betting.”
The next team is nicknamed the “Online Measure.” It would legalize sports betting online and is backed by popular sports wagering websites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
“Twenty-one other states have already legalized online sports betting and California should be next,” said team spokesperson Nathan Click.
“There’s an illegal, offshore online sports betting market that Californians spend billions of dollars each year on. These are sites based in Croatia, Latvia. They don’t offer any consumer protections and they don’t offer age verification,” Click continued.
The online measure is still in the signature gathering process and more than 25% of the way through. Proponents are confident they’ll be able to get it on the November ballot.
After regulatory costs, 85% of the money flowing to the state would go to homeless programs, including housing and mental health services.
“This year, with the Super Bowl in LA, think about how much revenue that could create to solve this problem,” Click said.
The third team considers itself the “Something for Everyone Measure.”
“Ours says there’s room for everybody here, we don’t exclude the tribes, we don’t exclude the others,” said Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda.
Mayor Cerda said it would allow all licensed gambling facilities, including card rooms and casinos, to allow in-person sports wagering. It would also legalize online and mobile sports betting.
If passed, it would put a 15% tax on businesses offering the bets. The money collected would go into a special fund called the California Sports Wagering Fund, which the state can use to put toward homelessness, housing, education and mental health programs.
This one is waiting on how the courts decide a case involving the supporters of the tribal measure.
Backers are hoping to gather signatures in time to get on the November ballot and analysts say it could also bring in hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Our initiative, at the end of the day, is going back to the people of California, the people who need it the most,” Mayor Cerda explained.
So you might be wondering what happens if all the initiatives get on the ballot and voters approve every single one. Experts say it could all come down to who gets the most votes.
One initiative already has opposition.
“By extension, it would devastate our communities,” said Bellflower Mayor Juan Garza, who is a member of the official no coalition against the tribal measure.
Garza represents an area with multiple card rooms.
Opponents of the measure say it gives power for a private right of action for people to file what they say would be frivolous civil lawsuits against card rooms.
“Minority communities like the ones I represent depend on revenue from those card rooms,” Mayor Garza said.
But supporters say their plan steps up enforcement of gambling laws.
“The card rooms recognize their days may be numbered in engaging in illegal activity,” Fairbanks said.
Meanwhile, the online measure faces opposition from 100% of California tribes, according to tribal measure supporters.
The battle between these sports betting ballot measures is just beginning. Some consider themselves in the first quarter of the game, with still a lot of time left, a lot of money to raise, campaigns to launch and voters to convince.
There is a fourth ballot initiative recently launched, which would legalize in-person sports betting on tribal lands only and online sports betting statewide. The proponents of that measure did not respond to FOX40’s request to be part of this story.