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SBD Staff Writer

by SBD Staff Writer

Updated Feb 21, 2023 · 11:16 AM PST

Despite being the United States’ most populous state with nearly 40 million residents, sports betting in California has yet to be approved since PASPA was overturned two years ago.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned on May 14, 2018. As a result, each US state is permitted to propose and create its own laws and regulations for sports betting.

Currently, gambling in California is limited to tribal casinos, card rooms, the state lottery, charitable gaming, pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, and daily fantasy sports. Luckily for Californian sports bettors, their neighboring states, Nevada and Oregon, offer legal sports betting.

Voters had numerous options to legalize sports betting on a November 2022 referendum vote, however they rejected Prop 26 and Prop 27 with very little support for either choice. Any opportunity to legalize California sports betting will now have to wait until 2024.

Even legalizing online poker has faced pushback with multiple failed bills and no agreement between California gaming stakeholders. Tribes in California have expressed their desire to be the sole sports betting provider. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, they had gathered nearly 1 million signatures in an effort to make the ballot in November 2020.

As an advocate of sports betting at both tribal casinos and commercial sportsbooks, state senator Bill Dodd sponsored a bill to regulate online and mobile sports gambling in 2020. However, it too stalled because of coronavirus.

Though there is adamant support of regulated sports betting in California, online and mobile gambling continues to be the root issue; tribal casinos insist online gambling can act as a gateway for underage gambling.

Keep reading for all the latest updates on the potential legalization of California sports betting.

California Sports Betting Latest News and Updates

Check back in for the latest news and updates surrounding California sports betting.

  • November 8, 2022: After a midterm election that gave voters the opportunity to legalize retail or online sports betting, it’s clear that Californians are still not in favor of legalizing sports betting. Prop 26 that would have legalized sports betting on Tribal lands and casinos was defeated with 29.9% yes votes, while Prop 27 that would have legalized online sports betting received a meager 16.6% in yes votes. The next chance to legalize California sports betting will come in 2024, but there’s still a lot of ground to be made up.
  • September 15, 2022: According to a PPIC statewide survey, only 34% of voters would vote for Prop 27 for California online sports betting, 54% would vote no, and 12% are unsure if the general election were held right now.
  • September 14, 2022: With just eight weeks remaining until the California general election, many politicians and sports betting operators continue to weigh in with opinions and financial contributions. Republican and Democratic politicians have started opposing both online and retail sports betting, while sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings have started pumping millions of dollars into campaigns supporting the legalization of wagering in the state. California voters have the opportunity to legalize sports betting during the general election on November 8, 2022.
  • August 12, 2022: The battle for public opinion surrounding the California online sports betting initiative continues to heat up, as two sides have come out with their own stances. On one side, several public leaders released a statement opposing the online sports betting initiative, with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D – Lakewood), Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D – San Diego), Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R – Nicolaus) and Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R – Santa Clarita) all condemning Proposition 27. Soon after, the MLB released an official statement supporting Proposition 27.
  • June 30, 2022: A mobile sports betting initiative is officially on California’s ballot for the November 2022 general election. The California Secretary of State has certified Qualification #1911 that would allow online and mobile sports wagering, an amendment Californians will be able to vote on come November 8, 2022.
  • May 3, 2022: The Californians for Solutions to Homelessness & Mental Health Support have officially submitted 1.6 million signatures to qualify their ballot measure for the November 2022 election. This initiative looks to legalize online sports betting for national operators like FanDuel, Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, Barstool Sportsbook, and DraftKings, provided they partner with a California Tribe. Voters would need to approve the online sports betting initiative in November before major sports betting platforms can start arranging these agreements.
  • April 19, 2022: Online sports betting operators, California tribes, and California card rooms are all vying for control over the sports betting market that could potentially be legalized in November 2022. Voters will likely have several options to legalize sports betting, with a tribal-led referendum already approved to be voted on. It is likely another referendum from operators like DraftKings and FanDuel will also appear on this November 2022 vote.
  • February 23, 2022: A proposed initiative to legalize sports betting in California can be shared with voters on the 2022 election ballot. The initiative would effectively legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racetracks in the state for people 21 and older. If passed, the initiative could also potentially open the door for tribal casinos to partner with private sportsbooks to launch mobile sports betting in the state.

When Will Online Sports Betting Be Legal in California?

It’s estimated that Californians currently gamble $10 million per year illegally already. With the state facing an estimated $54 billion deficit and sports wagering anticipated to bring in between $500-700 million in state taxes annually, there is a considerable push to see sports betting legalized in the Golden State.

Should the current joint bill between the House Assembly and Senate pass, it would allow horse racing tracks as well as tribal casinos to offer sports betting. Tribal casinos would also be able to offer table games like craps and roulette, though California card rooms would not be allowed to offer sports wagering.

And herein lies a problem. Tribal casinos believe the player-banked card rooms (think blackjack, three-card poker, baccarat, and pai gow) should be illegal, as the games violate their exclusive rights to host such games.

However, card rooms have evaded these laws by hiring third-party dealers to run the games, a move that has proved acceptable in California. The Yocha Dehe tribe in particular has taken great exception to this and even filed a lawsuit in 2019, which was later dismissed.

The passing of this new bill would give tribal casinos the right to offer sports betting and table games, but also take away their right to sue card rooms.

As recently as June 9, amendments were made to the bill SCA 6 by Dodd to try to appease the tribes by putting some limits and restrictions on the cardrooms going forward. The amendments were not greeted with enthusiasm by the cardrooms, though they were open to further discussion in order to push the bill forward. The tribes, however, did not feel amendments were nearly enough.

Tribes were also concerned that mobile wagering would infringe on their current brick-and-mortar casinos. As such, an amendment was put forth to gradually roll out online sports betting all the way into 2023. Not great news for Californians hoping to have online sports betting from the phones anytime soon.

The other hurdle is that should the bill pass, it is still a constitutional amendment that will need to win a two-thirds majority vote in the House Assembly and Senate. From there, it will need to go to the voters and pass as a proposition on the ballot, which would likely be in November.

While legalized wagering in California still has many steps ahead of it, the possible tax windfall is likely too large to pass up for much longer. With 19 professional sports teams in the state, the appetite for sports betting would likely be large. Don’t be surprised to see a form of at least in-person sports betting legalized sometime later in 2022.

Until that time comes, Californians can make the trip to the Grand Canyon State when sports betting Arizona launches on September 9, 2021.

California Sports Betting FAQs

Can you bet on sports in California?

Despite being the most populous state in America, sports betting is still currently illegal in California.

Is California still in a deficit?

California is suffering from a $54.3 billion deficit with the coronavirus devastating the nation’s economy. The deficit is the worst California has faced since the Great Recession.

Is DraftKings Sportsbook legal in California?

DraftKings’ daily fantasy sports games are legal for Californians to participate in.

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