Uphill Climb Ahead For Competing California Sports Betting Ballot Proposal

Posted on August 13, 2021
California sports betting
Posted By on August 13, 2021

Professional sports teams, cardrooms, race tracks and tribal casinos all could offer sports betting in California under a new ballot initiative.

Multiple cities in California teamed up to submit language for a 2022 ballot proposal to the Attorney General’s office. The initiative would legalize retail and mobile sports betting in CA with plenty of licenses to go around.

Legalizing sportsbooks in California is far from a simple issue, of course. Tribal casinos are big business in California with $9.7 billion in gaming revenue from casinos in California and northern Nevada in fiscal 2019. The tribes want to control the rollout of CA sports betting themselves, which has led to other efforts failing.

A tribal proposal already has a spot on the ballot. It includes five years of retail-only sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racing tracks.

The California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act – identically named to last year’s failed legislative effort needs 997,139 valid signatures by April 2022 to get on the ballot in November. The public can comment on the proposal through Sept. 13.

Plenty of California sports betting licenses

The proposal tethers sports betting licenses to land-based operations. Most US sports betting operators prefer that markets be untethered but they might be thrilled with all the potential partners.

Along with every tribal casino, cardroom and horse racing track, California’s 19 professional sports teams would also get licenses:

  • 5 MLB teams (Angels, Athletics, Dodgers, Giants, Padres)
  • 4 NBA teams (Clippers, Kings, Lakers, Warriors)
  • 3 NFL teams (49ers, Chargers, Rams)
  • 3 NHL teams (Ducks, Kings, Sharks)
  • 3 MLS teams (Earthquakes, Galaxy, LA FC)
  • 1 WNBA team (Sparks)

Each would pay $5 million for an initial license and $1 million every other year for renewal. Sports betting revenue would be taxed at 25% with another 1% (up to $10 million) due annually toward problem gambling programs.

Most betting markets allowed

The California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act would allow betting on amateur, collegiate and professional sports.

The only bets specifically prohibited include anything on high school sports and betting on potential injuries.

One suboptimal stipulation for sportsbooks is the official league data requirement for in-game betting.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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