October 3, 2021
Next year’s general election in California will decide the fate of legal sports betting in the state. There’s one voter referendum already on the November 2022 ballot. This initiative was forwarded by the tribal gaming interests in the state.
A second proposal is also in the works as presented by cardrooms in California. This group is working directly with a few local municipal governments.
More than a year out, another group is leading a push to propose a referendum for commercial operators. “Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support” is behind this effort.
This presents three distinct paths to legalizing sports betting in one of the biggest potential markets in the US. The latest proposal would work in conjunction with tribal gaming officials to benefit everyone’s interests in the matter.
BetMGM is one of the biggest legal US sportsbook operators in the marketplace. Analysts working for that company called California “one of the most important betting markets in the world.” In the same report it was mentioned that “California is easily the largest prize in the US sports betting market.”
California is home to 40 million people as the most populated state in the country. It is also home to 15 different professional sports teams representing the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Industry analysts estimate that California could generate $200 million in revenue from taxes and licensing fees on an annual basis.
There are seven different US sportsbook operators involved in the latest proposal. Leading the way is FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM as the three biggest legal US operators. Also in the mix is Bally Bet, Barstool Sportsbook, Fanatics and WynnBET.
The “Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support” are taking a different approach to building support. By removing the emphasis on legal sports betting, this group is putting more weight on social causes.
The group knows that these issues will catch the attention of voters in the 2022 November election. This group also understands that it will take a permanent funding source to properly address these social issues.
Another important aspect of this approach is complementing tribal gaming leaders. This plan would tie any mobile sports betting platform to the in-state tribal gaming interests. The current tribal proposal is for retail sports betting only.
Online mobile betting licenses could go for as much as $100 million in this plan. Tribal gaming entities would only pay $10 million for a mobile license. They would be separate from commercial operators. Tribal mobile betting apps would be tied to the state’s existing tribal casinos.
This new sports betting proposal is still in the process of gaining the necessary signatures. They would need at least one million to appear on the 2022 ballot. Given the commercial operators involved, this should be rather easy to accomplish.
If any of the three proposals are approved by California voters next November, legal sports betting could launch sometime in 2023.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can read more about our author's expertise here.