The sports betting industry is bracing itself for a gold rush as California’s House and Senate consider a ballot which could lead to a total legalization of online sports betting in the state.
Until recently there had been a blanket ban on gambling in the US – apart from designated locations such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Tribal Lands. Then in 2018, the Senate removed the ban and left it up to each individual state to decide whether they would legalize sports betting.
Now, three years later there are over twenty states that have legalized sports betting in some form or another. Some states, like New Jersey allow you to sign-up and deposit online whereas other states only allow in-person registration like Nevada. The two largest states, California and Texas had, until recently, been opposed to any change in legislation.
Then came 2020 and the state of California saw their budget deficit swell and footfall disappear at all the existing tribal casinos and card rooms. It has been estimated that legal online sports betting could generate $503 million in revenue for the state. Pressure is now mounting from two groups; the tribal casinos who have their own proposal and the state’s legislative proposal. The former would only allow in-person sports betting at casinos and the latter would allow for full online sports betting in the state.
California is also feeling the pressure from neighboring states such as Oregon, Nevada and Arizona who have all legalized sports betting in some form. In 2020, sports betting also went live in Virginia, Michigan and Tennessee.
There are over a dozen safe online sportsbooks that are licensed and operational in the US including FanDuel and DraftKings. However, the spread of these sportsbooks is sporadic, as they are required to produce a new product for each state.
However, if a state the size of California, which is the world’s fifth largest economy were to legalize online sports betting, then it is widely expected that bookies all over the world would look to get in on the action. William Hill, Bet365 and Unibet have already launched in various states across the country.
Licenses would be restricted if the state’s proposal would be approved as sportsbooks would need to partner with an existing tribal casino. A limited amount of licenses would mean that the state could charge expensive fees and a higher tax rate in comparison to other states.
The two proposals would both need to garner a two thirds approval in each chamber before June 19th 2021 if they are to qualify for the ballot. If the ballot passes and online sports betting is legalized then the state could allow sportsbooks to launch in late 2021.
By Nick Allen for BettingScanner