Online Sports Betting in
Legal sports betting in California will likely become a reality at some point, but questions remain as to when this will happen and who will be in control of it once it’s available to the public.
Where can you bet on sports in California?
This is still up for debate. The state’s tribes are working to ensure that any sports betting law that passes will give the tribal casinos the exclusive right to run Californian sportsbooks. As a result, 2020 saw the tribes backing sports betting legislation that would allow sportsbooks at tribal casinos and some horse tracks.
While there certainly seems to be support for legal sports betting in the state, efforts to push through legislation have fallen at the final hurdle each and every time.
For now, California players will have to head over to one of the casinos in Nevada or make use of Daily Fantasy Sports apps such as PrizePicks which accept players from California.
State legislators, however, still believe that statewide online and mobile sports betting is the only means to capitalize on the California market so this is certainly not the end of sports betting in the state.
For the time being, California bettors are either making do with DFS apps or using offshore sportsbooks that offer betting services within the state.
California sports betting apps
It’s still unclear as to what types of legal sports betting apps will be available in California. The state’s lawmakers have previously tried to push through mobile sports betting legislation, but the tribes have so far objected as they wanted to have complete control over any sports betting activity.
This means that there are two possible scenarios should sports betting become legal — the first is that sportsbooks must be tied to tribal casinos while the second option would see an open market with operators applying for individual licenses.
What could be seen as good news for sports bettors in CA is that state lawmakers have not expressed a desire to have a sole lottery run sports betting platform similar to that in Rhode Island, Montana, and Oregon.
Each of those states has either seen a loss when it comes to sports betting revenue or have not reached their estimated potential.
So in theory, the more likely scenario for California is an expansive marketplace with apps such as DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and BetMGM competing for customers. Only time will tell, however, as these rules haven’t been passed into law.
Lawmakers have previously tried to allow CA Tribes to partner with these major online sports betting brands by including provisions for doing so in their various sports betting bills.
But, negotiations for this are ongoing and only time will tell if this issue can be resolved.
California sports betting news
California sports betting FAQs
Can I bet on college teams based in California?
If the tribal initiative is the one that passes, then no, you would not be able to bet on college teams based in California. If legislation passes that allows an open market, then yes, you would likely be allowed to bet on California college teams.
Collegiate sports betting has been a topic of contention as student-athletes are the most susceptible to bribery. However, given how large the collegiate sports betting market would be in CA, it would be hard to see a measure passed without it.
How much would California sports betting be worth?
California has the largest population and most sports teams of any state in America, so naturally, it would have the biggest sports betting market. Based on numbers provided by the American Gaming Association, experts believe that Californians could stand to bet more than 18 billion dollars per year.
Depending on how the state sets its tax rate on sports gambling revenue, California sports betting could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually. A recent study conducted by Eilers & Krejcik predicts a mature California sports betting market to contribute $503 million to the state.
California Sports Betting Timeline
Complications between the state’s tribes, racetrack owners, and cardroom owners have pushed legalized betting further out.
Efforts to make legal sports betting in California a reality date all the way back to 2016, two years before the federal ban on the activity known as PASPA was repealed. But, the state’s tribal gaming compact has stomped out those efforts in the past.
Now, the tribes have banned together in order to put tribal casino-only sports betting on the November 2022 ballot. The state has also introduced a bill to do the same but would expand sports gambling operations past the tribes.
Who will get the nod: The Tribes? The State? Neither?
The attempts to legalize sports betting in California began in 2016 when Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced sports gambling legislation titled CA AB 1573. This measure failed to gain any traction, let alone an informational hearing, from the starting gate with PASPA still in full effect.
Assemblyman Adam Gray came back in 2017 with ACA 18. The intent of this bill was to amend the California constitution in order to legalize sports betting. But, the CA constitution requires voter approval for an amendment during an election year. This was one of the causes that again held back legislation from seeing any progress.’
In June of 2018, a group known as Californians for Sports Betting filed a petition in order to get the issue on the 2020 November ballot. Their deadline was in February of 2019 and they had to collect 623,211 in order to qualify to be on the ballot. The initiative collected zero signatures and was doomed before it even began. The petition would have allowed cardrooms to have sportsbooks that fall directly against tribal interests.
With a petition having failed in the early part of the year, Assemblyman Adam Gray came back with another sports betting bill titled ACA 16 in June of 2019. This time he had the help of Senator Bill Dodd who introduced matching legislation in the Senate through SCA 6. The bills didn’t include any specific information and were more of a placeholder until 2020 would begin.
In November of 2019, a total of 18 of the state’s tribes banded together in order to file their own petition to get CA sports betting on the November 2020 ballot. The terms of their petition are less attractive for sports bettors in that the only places that sportsbooks could exist is in tribal casinos.
This means no online or mobile sportsbooks in CA would be rolled out. It also prohibits betting on collegiate teams based in California, which would be a huge blow to any potential sports gambling profits for both sides of the industry.
The tribe would need to gain 997,139 signatures by late April of 2020 in order to put their petition on the 2020 ballot.
As of March of 2020, the California tribes were well on their way to receive more than enough signatures to qualify their petition on the ballot. Those in the state legislature are opposed to the tribe’s terms, but no action was taken on ACA 16 or SCA 6. At least one of those measures will need to pass by June with a two-thirds approval in the state legislature.
However, the COVID-19 crisis suspended either of the two parties from moving forward with their plans. The tribes couldn’t get any signatures due to the lockdown and legislators were not voting on any bills.
This put the fate of California sports betting up in the air, but there is still hope for CA sports bettors.
The state legislature came back in session the first week of June 2020 and finally pushed SCA 6 out of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The bill was finally filled out with more concrete rules as to how the industry would work. Senator Bill Dodd sought to allow tribal casinos and racetracks to be the only places allowed to operate land-based sportsbooks in California.
Those locations would even be able to partner with third-party online sports wagering sites like PointsBet or BetMGM to offer statewide sports betting.
Cardrooms would be left out of the picture, but they would still be able to offer the same card games they offer now. Because of this, the tribes opposed the bill and fought against it.
As a matter of fact, the Tribes filed a lawsuit to the Superior Court of The State of California against the California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The tribes sued to gain an extension on the time for them to collect signatures since the COVID-19 pandemic took their ability to do so.
SCA 6 had until June 25 to get a two-thirds vote and pass through both legislative chambers to be put on the November 2020 ballot.
However, Senator Dodd pulled the bill out of discussion only days before the deadline.
The tribes, on the other hand, won their right for an extension to gain the proper amount of signatures. That deadline is now set on October 12, 2020. However, even if they collect the proper amount of signatures their initiative will have to be put on the 2022 ballot.
On December 14th, 2020 The Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering filed 1,427,373 signatures meeting the minimum requirement of 997,139 signatures.
2021 saw the first positive news in terms of sports betting legislation in California when on May 26th, 2021, the office of Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced that counties found 1,061,282 signatures collected by the coalition to be valid.
This means that on November 8th 2022, California voters will decide on an initiative that would legalize sports betting. If passed, the ballot initiative will amend the state constitution and state statutes to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and licensed horse tracks in California.
The ballot measure will also legalize roulette and dice games at tribal casinos while placing a 10% tax on sports betting profits from the state’s horse racing tracks.
Speaking of the ballot measure, Mark Macarro, chairman of Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, said:
“Californians should have the choice to participate in sports wagering at highly regulated, safe and experienced gaming locations. 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.”