Sports betting has been unbanned for roughly a year and a half now and nearly 20 states have individually legalized it. However, most of these states have fairly low populations in comparison to the rest of the U.S.
California is the state with the most people living in it. There are almost 40 million people living there. Sports betting is currently still illegal in California, but there’s a good possibility that will all change next year.
The reason for this is that 18 Native American tribes within the state have started an initiative to put legal sports betting on the 2020 ballot. If the law passes, it would permit tribes to begin accepting sports wagers at casinos and licensed racetrack locations only. This means that non-tribal casinos would still be prohibited from taking sports bets, giving tribes sole control to do so.
Under this measure, betting on high school events is not permitted and no bets can be placed on state collegiate events. The initiative proposes a 10% tax rate on any revenue generated from sports wagering. Proceeds would go towards education, programs for mental health, and public safety. The measure would also rework tribal gaming compacts to allow tribal casinos to begin offer roulette and craps games.
Something that might stand in the way of this passing is that non-tribal casinos may object due to the fact that they are not being included in the potential sports betting legalization measure. Giving so much extra allowances to tribal casinos will surely bother card clubs that aren’t included.
Another issue is that online and mobile betting options would not be available. This means that this initiative wouldn’t do much to slow down the market of illegal online sports betting. Mobile sports betting is a major driver of success within a legal market, so this would limit the potential of legal sports betting in California.
Additionally, the initiative requires just under one million signatures from registered voters to qualify for being added to the ballot. This may not be a huge issue considering that Native Americans are politically well funded.
While there’s still plenty of specifics to work out, the fact that tribes are openly in favor of legalizing sports betting now is a huge step forward. There will likely be some contention with non-tribal card clubs due to their exclusion in the measure. This can’t be avoided, but at least it means that Californians are likely to have some form of legal sports betting avenue by next year.