Answering the big questions about California sports betting

California's sports betting market could be huge - if those proposing the amendment do it the right way. Covers interviewed State Sen. Bill Dodd and got the important answers to the big questions about California's proposed sports betting market.

Patrick Everson
Last Updated: Jun 2, 2020 11:14 AM ET
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California is moving a sports betting proposal through its Legislature, via amending the state constitution, in an effort to get an initiative onto the November ballot for voters’ approval. Successful enactment would be massive, as the California sports betting market could generate $30 billion-plus in annual wagering, according to industry estimates.

State Sen. Bill Dodd introduced the California sports betting bill last June in his chamber, with Assemblyman Adam Gray introducing an accompanying bill in his chamber. Sen. Dodd answered the big questions around what legal California sports betting would look like and gave key specifics on his legislation.

Who will run California sports betting?

The legislation designates tribal casinos and horse tracks as sites for sportsbooks, and the owners of those businesses will run and/or oversee sportsbook operations.

“We’re not gonna have the lottery” operating sports betting, Dodd told Covers in an interview, alluding to jurisdictions such as Tennessee and Washington, D.C., which put lottery commissions in charge of sports betting. “As it stands right now, the tribes and the horse racing facilities will be allowed to do it.”


Will the California sports betting market be open/competitive?

In a word, yes. Dodd said the legislation is written to attract as many stakeholders as possible, so that legal, regulated sports betting in California reaches critical mass and produces a competitive market serving both the sportsbooks and bettors.

“I think it will be competitive, but a competitive market is based on the amount of tribes wanting to be involved in sports betting,” Dodd said, adding that his legislation aims to strike a proper balance when it comes to tax and regulatory structure, to further spur competition. “It’s gotta be a fair market. It can’t be overtaxed and over-regulated.”

Will there be mobile/online sports betting in California?

Each tribal casino will be allowed a retail partner and an online partner, or can roll out its own platform. Dodd noted that mobile betting is a critical component of both sports betting bills.

“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.”

Mobile betting will have a higher tax rate: 15 percent of gross revenue, or hold, which is the amount sportsbooks retain after paying out winning wagers. Retail betting will have a 10 percent tax on gross revenue.

On Tuesday afternoon, there’s a key Senate committee hearing to discuss and potentially advance Dodd’s proposal.


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. 

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