California sports betting needs a State Constitutional Amendment to happen. This is why, recently, the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering, a group of tribal casinos, had to go get 1.4 million signatures to start to initiate legislation. The group needed these signatures to even start the long and hard-fought process that would be getting sports betting in front of California voters in 2022.
However, this is the first step. The Coalition was always going to be fighting for sports betting and dice games, which would legalize roulette, a massive moneymaker. The first step was getting these signatures, and the group did not even wait for 2020 to do so. The team wants to get bills in front of the State Congress as soon as possible and get the process going to get an amendment to the voters.
What Would This Bill Do?
Unfortunately, it seems that tribal casinos want dice games and sports betting for themselves. While it may open the door for online mobile betting, which is what Californians really want and what would actually bring in billions upon billions of revenue to the state, tribal casinos are fighting for themselves. These casinos want to offer in-person or, at most, on-site betting at their casinos and, on top of this, want to also regulate dice games and expand their casino operations.
What Can Sports Betting Do and When?
At this point, we do not know what the bill would look like. However, if there is any restrictive language regarding online and mobile wagering, then this initiative could hurt California in the long run. However, as long as the amendment simply opens the door for sports betting in California, this is an absolute win for the people in the state.
Sports betting could bring massive amounts of tax revenue to the State of California. It would also provide a safe, legal, and regulated way to bet on sports. Right now, many in California have to resort to offshore sportsbooks such as Bovada and MyBookie, which exist in a legal grey area. Not only can this activity be seen as illegal in some eyes of the law, but it is also much more dangerous and unknown.
The earliest that sports betting will arrive in California is 2022, but more realistically, 2023. Not only does this bill have to pass through Congress, but it also needs to get in front of voters in 2022. Then, once the amendment is passed, there still will be regulations, rules, and more to be ironed out.
Sports betting has a realistic shot of getting passed during this two-year term; however, when you will be able to bet on a sportsbook like DraftKings from the comfort of your home could be very far away. Not only is 2023 one of the earlier realistic dates, but this would also require California to not give into tribal casinos and instead allow for online and mobile wagering, which tribal casinos seem to be against.
There is a long and interesting legal process to be had from this point, but the signatures mean that this new fight during the 2021-2022 legislative season has begun.