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California Indian tribes propose to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering

15 November 2019

(PRESS RELEASE) -- A coalition of Native American Tribes from throughout the state today filed a proposed constitutional amendment for the November 2020 statewide ballot that will allow Californians to participate in limited sports wagering at authorized locations, including Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks.

The California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act will safeguard consumers and provide protections by:
  • Permitting limited sports wagering at Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks.
  • Only permitting sports wagering by those over 21 to safeguard against underage gambling and requiring bettors to be physically present to place sports wagers.
  • Prohibiting the marketing and advertising of sports wagering to minors.
  • Permitting sports wagering only on lawful professional, college, or amateur sport or athletic events.
  • Prohibiting wagering on any high school sports or athletic events and prohibiting wagering on sports events in which any California college team participates.
  • Authorizing the Legislature to provide for consumer protections and anti-corruption measures to ensure the integrity of sporting events.
  • Protecting public safety by strengthening the enforcement of California’s current gambling laws to allow Californians to hold unlawful gambling operations accountable through Private Attorneys General Act provisions.
  • Imposing a 10% tax on gross gaming revenues derived from sports wagering for public safety, mental health programs, education, and regulatory costs. Fines collected from unlawful gambling operations under this measure will be directed into the California Sports Wagering Fund.
  • Ensuring that establishments that offer legal sports wagering play by the rules by making them subject to audit standards.
  • Permitting craps and roulette at Indian gaming casinos.
In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the federal prohibition on sports wagering. As a result, states now have the freedom to authorize sports wagering within their borders and establish regulations, consumer protections, responsible gambling measures, and taxes for sports wagering. Already 19 states have chosen to regulate and tax sports wagering in a manner that provides for consumer protections, responsible gambling, and gives adults the choice to participate in this activity. Although California is not yet one of those states, a recent statewide survey found that nearly two-thirds of likely November 2020 California voters say they support allowing federally recognized Native American tribes to operate sports wagering on Indian lands.

“Californians should have the choice to participate in sports wagering at highly regulated, safe, and experienced gaming locations,” said Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. “We are very proud to see tribes from across California come together for this effort, which represents an incremental but important step toward giving Californians the freedom to participate in this new activity in a responsible manner.”

“We have historically been opposed to the expansion of gaming in California beyond the current scope,” said Tribal Chairman Anthony Roberts of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “This initiative represents a viable and measured path that provides Californians with the opportunity to wager on sports in a manner that is responsible and provides for real enforcement penalties for unlawful gambling in the state.”

“This well-designed measure ensures responsible sports wagering by introducing important safeguards that protect consumers. For example, it requires people to be physically present when placing bets, forbids marketing of sports wagering to minors under 21, and prohibits wagering on high school games and college games with California teams,” said Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

“The tribally sponsored initiative filed today to amend California’s Constitution so as to authorize and regulate sports wagering is the best example of well-written and responsible sports betting policy presented to date,” said Steve Stallings, Chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “A strong, well-regulated gaming industry is of utmost importance to California’s tribal governments and the public. This initiative allows sports wagering in a responsible manner and provides for transparency and strict regulation.”

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