Legalized sports betting could come to The Golden State of California as soon as November 2022 after the attorney general put forward proposals from a new initiative. Should the initiative receive signatures from at least 8% of the people who voted for the Governor at the last election (approximately one million), it will appear as a referendum in the November 2022 ballot.
Several Californian cities have teamed up and created the Californian Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act. The primary aim of the act is to attack Blackmarket gaming, protect consumers from unscrupulous operators, increase public safety, and raise much-needed funds for the heavily indebted Golden State.
Sports betting is not allowed in California, not even at tribal casinos where most gambling activity takes place. The Californian Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act gives power to the Californian cities. It stops the tribal casinos from having everything their way, which pleases Joe Patterson, the California Gaming Executive Director.
“While the California Gaming Association has not yet taken a position on this newly proposed sports betting initiative, we do strongly oppose the self-serving tribal casino monopoly initiative that will only benefit wealthy tribal casino operators to achieve their goal of a gambling monopoly with no benefits for California residents.”
Substantial Tax Benefits For The State
Sports betting is big business. The latest figures show the sports betting industry in the United States generated revenue of $1.55 billion in 2020. Almost 31,000 businesses employ approximately 197,000 staff.
The Californian sports betting industry is estimated to be worth $10 billion. California is by far the most populous U.S. state with a population of 39.5 million. Only Texas, with its 29.1 million people, comes anywhere close.
A proposed tax rate of 25% would generate a staggering $2.5 billion annually. With spiraling debt of $143.15 billion in 2020, California needs all the additional funding it can get its hands on.
Benefits For California Residents
Not only does the state benefit from increased tax revenue, but Californians also reap the rewards of legalized sports betting. California residents spend $10 billion annually on illegal sports betting activity. They are forced to use offshore companies, many of which are not regulated or hold licenses that are not worth the paper they are written on.
Putting sports wagering into the hands of the state protects consumers. They know their funds are 100% safe, operators are held accountable, and safety measures are put in place to protect those wishing to place a bet on sporting events.
Californians are passionate about their sports teams, thanks to the state being the home to some of the best-known teams and franchises in the world. NBA’s L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers reside in California, as are the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. Then there are the hugely popular USC and UCLA colleges.
When Will Legalized Sports Betting Happen in California?
It is a case of when not if sports betting becomes a legal activity in California, although it may still take some time. Should the Californian Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act or the rival tribal bill become a referendum on the November 2022 ballot, there is still plenty of work to be done.
More than three years have passed since the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional, yet less than half of U.S. states have legalized wagering on sports. Even fewer have active sports betting markets, but at least those states have the framework to build their industry.
At a time when California is straining from sky-high debts and in need of funds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is not in a position to allow $2.5 billion in additional taxes to slip from its grasp. Whether it is the cities or tribes that ultimately control the market remains to be seen.