Why Attempts to Legalize Sports Betting in California Will LIkely Prove to be a Bust

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

Legalized sports betting in the USA's most populous state of California we know will not be happening any time soon, and there is a very good chance we won't see it in this lifetime either (or at least for another generation).

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The San Francisco Chronicle this week explains the dilemma.

At least three institutional players want a stake in controlling bets: tribal casinos, cardrooms and horse tracks. Pro sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA and Major League Soccer — are also angling for a share.

“A number of entities exist in the gaming space as well as in the sports space,” said Adam Capper, a spokesman for Gray. “The two worlds will have to come together and figure out how to exist.”

Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, said the state’s 68 tribal casinos are interested in sports betting, but only if the state can properly regulate existing commercial gambling. The association is in a dispute with state regulators and card clubs over the types of card games and betting allowed in the clubs.

“The tribes understand the industry and are positive about growth and expansion, but not expansion that would jeopardize tribes’ exclusivity (to offer casino games) or things we do now,” Stallings said. “We told the legislators we will discuss it, but we want details on tax rates, who would be eligible, how it would operate.”

For nearly a decade poker interests attempted to legalize the online equivalent in the state and conflicts of interest - warring factions -  always got in the way.

Any plan to legalize sports wagers will require the cooperation of those interests and the approval of California legislators and, ultimately, voters.

The Chronicle's Michael Cabanatuan doesn’t see any chance of sports betting becoming legalized in California by the 2020 NFL season.

The proposed state constitutional amendment, if it passes the Legislature, would require an election in November 2020, deep into football season.

If the amendment passes as is, the Legislature will need to implement the new wagering scheme and get the show running. Any constitutional amendment would likely include operational details before going to voters.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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