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Battle to legalize sports betting in California gearing up in '22

Legal sports betting in the U.S. "accelerated in 2021 as a flurry of states either overcame legislative logjams ... or signed off on online wagering," but those efforts are "likely to pale in comparison to the all-out lobbying, campaigning and legal jousting in 2022 involving what a DraftKings executive recently called 'one of the holy grails' in sports betting: California," according to David Chen of the N.Y. TIMES. By November, Californians may be asked to "vote on as many as four sports betting initiatives." That is why "deep-pocketed interests, including national sports books and Native American casinos, have been gearing up" to spend $200M to "persuade voters in California to support their particular proposal -- or to reject the others." One measure would "add sports wagering, but only in person, at tribal casinos or horse racing tracks." Gambling expansion in California has "often fallen short or been torpedoed by competing interests." California is the biggest state for tribal gambling, with 66 tribal casinos on federally recognized lands, mostly far from the coast, yielding about $8B, with "much of that coming from slot machines." Under the tribes’ initiative, which is backed by a political action committee that has raised more than $13M, sports wagering would be "permitted at tribal casinos and horse tracks." It is estimated that sports betting could "increase revenue" for casinos by 20-25% (N.Y. TIMES, 1/19).

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