While we generally cover California casinos — specifically of the online variety — the only real gambling news in the Golden State of late has to do with sports betting.
Sure, there’s that whole kerfuffle between the tribal casinos and CA car rooms, but that’s more of a back-and-forth back-burner thing. It’s going to be drawn out for a while. And for gamblers, it’s not all that pressing.
However, sports betting legalization is another matter.
As the most broadly popular kind of gambling — and as the fastest-growing gaming market in the US since 2018 — California residents are eager to get on board with the betting boards. After all, there are more local sports teams in CA than in any other state, which means there are more sports bettors in CA than in any other state.
And since CA casinos are the venues that will host sports betting (especially if in-person sports betting gets the nod before statewide online betting), it is — industrially, at least — a very relevant topic for all gamblers.
It’s also highly desired.
In 2022, Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 both failed spectacularly at the ballot box, but that’s not indicative of the demand for sports gambling in CA. On the contrary, those props failed because they didn’t address sports betting legalization in a vacuum.
Instead, sports betting was included as part of a much broader gambling expansion package. That brought in a lot of gaming lobbies and out-of-state money, and the campaign worked. You can read more about the whys and wherefores here.
As for what’s next for Calif. sports betting, there’s some good news. Remember, the sports betting initiative didn’t fail in 2022 because voters are against sports betting. It failed because the package was too broad. In general, casino gambling expansion is a much tougher sell than sports gambling expansion. We’ve seen this play out in a number of states over the last four years or so, and it seems to be a rule nationwide.
So with that in mind, it does look like California voters will have another chance to approve sports betting. This was even recognized all the way back in November of ’22, with the Associated Press quoting UNLV’s Becky Harris — a gambling expert at the International Gaming Institute — as saying the following:
“I do think sports wagering is imminent, but how involved the Legislature chooses to get is yet to be determined as the voters are clearly not liking what they’re seeing so far.”
Further, the Yes on 27 campaign is all in on sports betting, releasing this statement in the wake of the proposition’s defeat two years ago:
“This campaign has underscored our resolve to see California follow more than half the country in legalizing safe and responsible online sports betting. Californians deserve the benefits of a safe, responsible, regulated, and taxed online sports betting market, and we are resolved to bringing it to fruition here.”
Exactly how the campaign to legalize California sports betting will unfold between now and 2024 remains to be seen.
In general, a statewide ballot measure has to be approved about five months before the election in question, so we may not know the exact tack before about mid-2024. That said, because these are expensive and expansive campaigns, it’s likely that the game plan will be made known sooner rather than later.
If the state really wants to get sports gambling off the ground, expect any associated ballot measure to be isolated to sports betting. Further, we wouldn’t be surprised if the pastime is limited to in-person betting at the outset. Online expansion might credibly be withheld unitl 2026 or later.
Of course, you can also bet legally and safely online with offshore CA-friendly betting sites in the meantime.
Hopefully, the meantime won’t be a long time.
Source: Associated Press