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California Sports Betting Ballot Initiative
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California Sports Betting Ballot Initiative

by Kevin KrestJune 2, 2021

It appears that the most populous state in the country will be making a formal attempt to join 28 others that have approved legal sports betting. After receiving almost one million required signatures, an initiative to approve wagering on sports in the state of California will make it onto the November 8, 2022 General Election Ballot. 

While it’s a promising development for sports betting proponents in the state, it still means implementation of the practice in California could be as long as two and a half years in the future. Following the approval of the measure, if that happens, the state will need to establish regulations and other operating guidelines that, judging from the experience of other states, could take a year or longer to complete.

With both Texas and California two or three years away from having legal sportsbooks operational in those states, that leaves over 20% of the United States population without a legal sports wagering option until 2023 at the earliest. Meanwhile, much of the rest of the country is slowly moving forward with approvals and implementations.

The California measure calls for the addition of sports wagering, as well as roulette and dice games to the gambling options that tribal casinos can offer. Currently, they offer versions of those games that are card-based and it can be quite amusing and confusing to participate in them.

It also allows for on-site sports wagering at privately operated horse racing tracks in four counties for anyone aged 21 and older, with Santa Anita, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, and Los Alamitos currently operating in the state. The tax on sports betting in California is stipulated in the ballot measure as 10%, with the state projecting revenues in the “tens of millions of dollars annually”.

Sports Betting in California – No Online Wagering Mentioned

There is no mention of online sports wagering, so many proponents are likely displeased that the measure doesn’t go far enough to satisfy the appetite for sports betting in the state. It refers to on-site only, but it also doesn’t specifically address whether online wagering would be allowed within sports betting facilities.

The lack of online sports betting in California is either intentional or it’s a rather large oversight on the part of the proponents Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, Jeff L. Grubbe, Anthony Roberts, and Marc Macarro. Without a doubt, the issue is likely to be addressed at some time in the future, if not even prior to the 2022 General Election if time permits.

Without the addition of online wagering, the measure allows for only the addition of sports betting to locations that already offer gambling of some type, whether it’s the 62 tribal casinos or the four horse racing tracks. All will receive approval to offer additional wagering options to their customers, but no expansion beyond existing gamblilng locations is stipulated in the initiative that will be voted on in 2022.

California is following the trend of legal sports betting legislation that began following the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in 2018 that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Following the ruling, states were allowed to legalize sports betting and establish the rules that regulate the practice. 

Stay with USA Wager for more state news from the sports betting industry!

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About The Author
Kevin Krest