While California is arguably the state that with the biggest monetary potential when it comes to sports gambling profits – it is one of the states that is perhaps the furthest away from making legalized sports betting a reality. California alone comprises almost 13% of the U.S. population and has 16 professional sports teams among the four major leagues. Unfortunately, indications are that the Golden State will not be implementing legalized sports gambling in the near future.
There are several factors that stand in the way of bringing legalized sports betting to the Golden State. The main hurdle that must be cleared is dealing with the powerful tribal interests that control most of the casinos in California. As a result, these entities are hesitant to open and renegotiate their tribunal agreements and potentially sharing sports betting profits with its competitors – like racetracks and card rooms.
Specifically, gambling in California is mainly controlled by casino operating tribes that have compacts with the state. The tribes that are part of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association have shown a history of being against any type of expansion of gambling even though it may bring more money to its respective casinos. To make matters worse, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association is currently in a dispute with some California card rooms. Consequently, the tribes are hesitant to now also venture into the unchartered ground of sports gambling and the nuisances associated with its implementation.
On the bright side, recently the United Auburn Indian Community reached a deal with a joint venture of the casino company MGM and online gambling company GVC to run the sportsbook at its Thunder Valley Casino Resort, northeast of Sacramento. This way the United Auburn Indian Community is set up should sports betting become legal in the Golden State. There is certainly ground for optimism in this regard.
At the end of the day, the only feasible way to bring legalized sports gambling to California is to negotiate – in good faith – with the tribal entities. The major sticking point of any agreement with the tribes will be that the tribal casinos must be in control of the sports betting market in California. However, on the other hand, should sports betting first become legalized in other sports betting retailers – like racetracks and cardrooms – then the tribes and its casinos will be less likely to enter the legalized sports betting sphere as it would probably not control the sports betting market in that scenario.
Overall, while sports betting may take some time to reach the Golden State – there is some hope in its long-term future. California has too much lucrative potential when it comes to sports betting to be ignored. While there may be a lot of bureaucratic potholes that have to be ironed out – we anticipate that legalized sports betting will come to California in the years to come.