Battle lines drawn over sports betting

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Bookmakers in the UK are reported to be assembling a $100m fighting fund to contest Native American tribes in California in the battle to legalise sports betting in the state.

Ladbrokes owner Entain and Paddy Power’s Flutter are reported to be among the contributors to the lobbying fund. California is poised to change the law and fresh proposals will be put to Californian voters later this year.

According to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, they have taken on a top lobbyist in the campaign. Dana Williamson, former chief political advisor to Xavier Beccera, now Joe Biden’s health secretary, will spearhead the campaign on behalf of the seven online bookmakers.

They want to legalise online sports betting across the state – the world’s fifth largest economy.  The campaign is entitled The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act and tax revenues generated would be used to fight social problems such as homelessness.

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The 61 Californian tribes have combined to lodge a rival campaign – The California Legalises Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative. It would allow Indian casinos and the four horse racing tracks in the sate to offer in-person-only sports betting.

The ballot is to take place in November and the campaigning will get under way later this month.

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