DraftKings, FanDuel, Bet MGM and others are planning to put $100 million towards California’s third sports betting initiative, the “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act.”
A campaign committee has already been established. One of the first messages released states, “Permanent solutions require a permanent funding source. The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act will raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually to fight homelessness and expand mental health support in California by allowing regulated entities to offer safe, responsible sports betting online.”
What This Means for the Tribal Gaming Initiative
But what does this mean for the Tribal Gaming Initiative? After all, this Sports Betting expansion is one that the Tribes have practically spearheaded. But supporters of this newest measure say that it will not conflict with the Tribes’ initiative. In fact, propponents hope that both initiatives will work in tandem with each other.
The Tribal Gaming Initiative will allow in-person Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos. But the Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act will expand online gambling. Even still, that likely negatively effects the Tribes’ business efforts. The more online access people have to legal sports gambling, the less likely they are to go to Tribal Casinos. Additionally, it’s only a matter of time before Casinos backed by FanDuel or DraftKings open up for in-person betting.
But nonetheless, campaign manager for this new initiative, Dana Williamson, said, “Any online sports betting operator seeking to participate in the California marketplace must do so by partnering with a California tribe.“ She added, “a portion of the measure’s revenue is dedicated to uplifting Tribal communities.”
Specifically, the initative plans to put 85% of total revenue to homelessness and mental health. 15% would then go to tribal communities. While that plan remains unclear, it’s evident that proponents of this new initiative want to form good relationships with tribes. With a relationship on good terms, both groups can work together to expand sports betting in the State.
Concerns Over Betting Expansion
There remains a strong coalition against the expansion of Sports Betting. Namely, those against Sports Betting expansion worry about underage usage. But proponents echo that the initiative “strictly limits online betting to individuals 21 years of age or older, using the most advanced and proven technology to enforce restrictions, and it imposes fines of up to $100,000 for any operator who knowingly accepts bets from minors.”
Furthermore, the intiatives central thesis is to help solve many of California’s current social issues. While concerns over underage usage are in part valid, the expansion of Sports Betting is inevitable. Because of that, it is better, proponents aregue, to focus on what that expansion can help California accomplish. They’ve already made clear, as aforementioned, that thwarting underage gambling will be atop the list.
Mayor of Sacramento, Darrell Steinberg, said about this newest initiative that, “It is a rare occasion when any initiative seeks to dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars or more for the cause.” He added, “Funding mental health programs and fighting homelessness is currently subject to the whims of the economy.”
California’s legislature views this both as an opportunity to profit as well as an opportunity to aid in social issues. While there are three initiatives set to be decided on, one would be surprised if any initiative passed isn’t one that involved aiding in the fight against homelessness and the deterioration of mental health.