California Not Likely to Approve Sports Gambling Anytime Soon
California professional sports teams have participated in numerous championship series in the major pro sports over the last decade, which isn’t surprising since the Golden State has numerous teams across all sports leagues. What is surprising is that California isn’t taking advantage of this fact by legalizing sports gambling in the state. And, it doesn’t appear that California’s legislators will be approving legal sports betting anytime soon.
Sports Betting in the U.S.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada, which had been in place since 1992. This opened up the possibility for every state to approve and regulate its own sports gambling legislation. Many states have taken advantage of this opportunity, including Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. In fact, states like New Jersey have really enjoyed the revenue generated from sports betting.
There are several more states that have passed legislation, but have not yet opened sportsbooks. Additionally, at least another dozen states are currently working on legislation to legalize the activity.
To date, California is nowhere to be found on the lists of states that have made progress towards legalizing sports betting, despite the Golden State being ideal population-wise, number of pro sports teams, those teams’ success like the Golden State Warriors, and the potential opportunity.
The Associated Press carried out a review of the 50 states, looking at sports gambling legislation. This review says that legalization is very unlikely to take place at any near point in the future in California.
One major reason why it’s unlikely we will see legal sports betting in California anytime soon is because any moves to legalize sports gambling would probably first require a vote to amend the constitution and other legal hoops to jump through, according to Chris Grove, the managing director of the gambling research firm Eilers and Krejcik:
“The dynamic at work here is the larger the state, the larger the market, the larger the opportunity – the more complex the stakeholder environment and the more political stasis sets in.”
Gambling in California
Right now, all gambling in California is mostly controlled by Indian tribes that run casinos under a compact with the state. The tribes that make up the California Nations Indian Gaming Association are against any expansions to gambling, including sports betting, even though this could increase traffic to the tribal casinos.
Steve Stallings, the CNIGA’s chairman, explained that the tribes are involved in a dispute with the card rooms in the state and don’t want any more competition by opening up sports gambling:
“We feel like protecting the industry in California is more important.”
In the event sports betting is made legal in California, the United Auburn Indian Community has made a deal with MGM and GVC to run a sportsbook at the tribe’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort. This doesn’t mean the tribe wants sports betting to become legal, but want a deal set up just in case.
According to the lawyer who worked on the deal on behalf of the tribe, Howard Dickstein, the tribe would be open to sports betting in the state as long as tribal casinos would be allowed to control the market:
“The tribe is not a strong advocate of legalizing sports betting under any circumstance. The agreement with MGM is an insurance policy to become allied with a leader if and when it becomes legal in California.”
What all of this boils down to is the fact that California is currently a political nightmare for sports betting. At this rate, the state probably won’t see legalized sports betting for a few more years.
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