The rising threat of the Coronavirus has led to social distancing in the state of California. This news comes at a time when California’s tribal casino-owners have long been demanding for the right to offer sports betting in the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom took steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 within the entire state of California. However, this move might prove to be against the efforts of the casino owners to place their proposition for a constitutional amendment, in front of voters this year. Till now, 997,139 signatures have been garnered in favour of this amendment. However, an additional 10% is still required to account for discrepancies that come up when acquiring signatures in public spaces.
600,000 signatures had been acquired by early March, as stated by the 18 tribes of casino owners. It seemed to be on track for the country deadline of 21 April, until the threat of the pandemic seemed to limit the population within the constraints of their own homes. Till Monday, 33 deaths have been recorded in the state.
“We are at nearly one million signatures and were on a trajectory to reach our goal well ahead of the deadline before the unprecedented orders around COVID-19,” as mentioned by the spokesperson for the tribal campaign, Jacob Mejia, to the San Francisco Chronicle. “The health and well-being of Californians is foremost. Thus, paid signature-gathering efforts have paused for the time being.”
The amendment might take up as a ballot measure and could be postponed until 2022, in case of a failure to meet the deadline. However, approval by two-thirds of the state legislature might be required in order to place this move for the ballot.
A possibility of rejection until 2022:
The possible rejection comes in the wake of the tribe’s bid to incorporate race-tracks in its proposal, but exclude all the 72 cardrooms and operators of the state. The card room operators hold a crucial 150-year-old stake-holding bloc, as mentioned by the California Gaming Association.
The bid might provide monopoly over to a few select casino groups that have their establishments away from population centres. These establishments provide no mobile gaming services that would attract online customers, as seen in states like New Jersey where online gambling forms a huge share of its business. These tribes would also have the exclusive chance to offer dice games and roulette as well.
Mejia however, supports this claim by stating a survey that reports Californians to be disinterested towards mobile betting.
California is a big market for sports betting:
The potential revenue from sports betting in California has been estimated to be around $2.5 billion, annually. However, this estimate seems to be highly unlikely without the inclusion of mobile betting. In the past, tribes have never supported mobile betting, since they fear that it might lead to the collapse of retail properties. This is, however, an exception for tribes in the state of Michigan and Florida.
Furthermore, revenues might further be affected as betting wouldn’t be allowed for in-college teams, in the State of California.