California sports betting’s prospects took a major hit Monday that will lead to a significant delay for bettors hoping to see legal, regulated wagering on pro and college athletics in the Golden State. Strong opposition from California’s tribal gaming operators led state Sen. Bill Dodd, the bill’s sponsor, to pull the gambling legislation.
In order to get on the November ballot in California, the bill – which would amend the state’s constitution to legalize sports betting – first had to clear the California Legislature by June 25. Now, the Legislature and stakeholders across the state will ostensibly start over.
Why was the California sports betting bill killed?
California’s tribal casinos are opposed to mobile/online betting, which Sen. Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray – working on similar legislation in his chamber – believe is necessary for sports betting to succeed. The casinos are concerned that mobile betting will inhibit the number of patrons coming through the door, and there wasn't enough time remaining to work out those differences.
“Given the deadline for getting a measure on the November ballot and the impact of COVID-19 on the public’s ability to weigh in, we were not able to get the bill across the finish line this year,” Dodd said in a news release Monday.
The tribes also had concerns with the bill allowing card rooms to offer games such as blackjack.
What happens next for California sports betting?
It appears the best-case scenario for the Golden State is to get sports betting on the November 2022 ballot, for enactment in 2023. California tribes are already trying to do so, with a proposal that would allow in-person wagering. However, Dodd previously told Covers that an in-person-only framework isn’t practical.
“Absolutely. From what we’ve heard, mobile is 80 to 85 percent” of sports betting, Dodd said. “If we just do a brick-and-mortar framework, that just doesn’t work.”
So Dodd hopes to bring stakeholders together for broader-based sports betting legislation to put before voters in 2022.
“It remains important that we lift this widespread practice out of the shadows, to make it safer and to generate money for the people of California,” Dodd said in the release. “I will continue to be engaged in the issue as we work toward 2022.”
How much money would California sports betting generate?
Monday’s move was a huge setback not just for the Legislature, but sportsbook operators salivating at the thought of operating in the nation’s most populous state. And bettors will no doubt continue to wager through offshore accounts and local bookies, or travel to Las Vegas or Reno to legally bet, so California will continue losing any revenue from those transactions.
Earlier this month, Dodd said industry analysts pegged California sports betting at $30 billion annually, with Year 1 sportsbook revenue of $2 billion and state tax revenue of at least $200 million. The California bill included a 10 percent tax on sportsbooks’ gross revenue from retail wagering, and a 15 percent tax on gross revenue from online/mobile wagering.
For comparison, the total amount wagered in Nevada in 2019 was a record $5.3 billion, so California was expected to dwarf that number right out of the gate.
Where is sports betting legal in the USA?
Find out where to bet legally on sports in the U.S.A., how sports betting runs in each of those states, and which states will have sports betting next with our legal sports betting review and map.