Sportsbook is approved for Del Mar Fairgrounds, but do not place this bet yet


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Athletes will be able to bet on Padres and even SDSU Aztecs matches at Del Mar Fairgrounds from 2023.

The board of directors of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which manages the fairgrounds, unanimously agreed last week to allow betting on professional and college sporting events, but only if California voters approve it. during the November 2022 poll.

“Del Mar is the only fairground in the state that would receive income from sports betting under this ballot initiative,” Josh Rubinstein, president and chief operating officer of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, said at The 22nd DAA Board of Directors Meeting, Tuesday, Sep 14.

The situation in Del Mar is unique because of the special relationship between the 22nd DAA and the Thoroughbred Club, which rents the racetrack, viewing stands and related properties in the district.

A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling paved the way for states to legalize sports betting when it found that a 25-year law banning action outside Nevada was unconstitutional. Since then, more than 20 states have legalized betting on professional and college sports, and many of them collect significant tax revenues. Several more states are expected to start in the next year or two.

“If the citizens of California don’t legalize sports betting, then everything we are talking about will be gone,” Rubinstein said.

The voting initiative drafted by Native American tribes would allow sports betting at Native American gambling casinos and on licensed racetracks in four counties – Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego.

The revenue would come mainly from a $ 2 million increase in the annual rent that the Thoroughbred Club pays at the fairgrounds to host the annual races, but also from related things such as the sales of food and drink managed by the fairgrounds. exhibitions. The Thoroughbred Club, which is a separate entity from the fairgrounds, would hire the sports betting operator and oversee the partnership.

No one at the board meeting spoke out against sports betting, although people often object to horse racing in general. Some speakers said administrators should expect a larger share of the profits.

Sports betting could bring billions of dollars to California, said Lori Saldana, former member of the San Diego State Assembly.

“You should be insulted by the $ 2 million,” Saldana said. “It’s a lowball offer. Please don’t accept these financial deals … you don’t need to be in a rush.

However, fairground officials said the weather was a factor. There are only a handful of qualified operators in the country and without a deal Del Mar could lose out if those operators sign contracts elsewhere.

Chairman of the board Richard Valdez and some of the directors said the financial arrangement was reasonable and could be renegotiated if the business proves successful.

“We have to recognize that horse racing in general, nationally, is in decline,” said director Fred Schenk, adding that new sources of income are needed.

Further, Schenk noted, “for the first time in a long time,” no one at the board meeting objected to the betting.

“It was ‘Get more, not less,’ he said.” I don’t feel a lot of opposition. “

The deal to host the betting operation is subject to a number of conditions, Rubinstein said. The first is that the athletics club must contract with a “top partner” to manage the betting.

The operator would place bets at the Del Mar Saddle Club, part of the Surfside Race Place that was used for off-track betting on horse races held elsewhere in the United States and around the world. The Saddle Club is an area of ​​Race Place excluded from the recent renovation which has converted much of the facility into a concert and event center.

“The Saddle Club is a big space, but it hasn’t been used for several years,” Rubinstein said. “He has good bones, but he needs new rugs, televisions and paintings on the walls.”

Any necessary improvements will be paid for by the operator, he said.

Fair Board directors have discussed the idea of ​​sports betting on several occasions since 2018, but have taken no action so far. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has canceled the fairground’s biggest lucrative events, including the 2020 San Diego County Fair.

The resulting financial fall resulted in the layoff of more than a third of the fairground staff of 158 full-time employees in October 2020. This year there was a scaled-down version of the County Fair, so as larger events begin to return, but the agricultural district continues to face economic hardships.

“We struggled here,” said manager Lisa Barkett, who pleaded for approval without delay. “The competition is going to be tough, and we will lose if we wait. “

New Jersey has the largest sports betting market in the country and raised $ 49.4 million in new tax revenue in 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania was second with $ 38.7 million in revenue.

The Tribal Coalition to Allow Regulated Sports Betting has so far spent nearly $ 12 million on the California voting initiative, according to industry magazine Gaming Today.

One of the main contributors to the campaign is the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, which operates the Pechanga Resort & Casino near Temecula.

“Californians should have the choice to participate in sports betting in highly regulated, safe and experienced gambling venues,” said Mark Macarro, president of the Pechanga Band, in the vote for the initiative. He called it “a progressive but important step in giving Californians the freedom to participate in this new activity in a responsible manner.”

A group of card clubs, including the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens and the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, are fighting the initiative with a group called No On the Gambling Power Grab.

“This initiative does nothing to advance sports betting, but rather extends the tax-free monopoly of tribal casinos on gambling and rewards these operators for prioritizing their own wealth over public health and safety,” said Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Association, in the argument against the ballot.

California voters first licensed tribal casino games with a ballot proposal in 1998.

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