Although it seems like a match made in heaven, sports betting coming to California has been nothing but a failure for lawmakers looking to boost the state’s tax revenue.
The state’s Native American tribes believe they own a monopoly over gambling. At the same time, other gaming entities such as horse racing tracks and card rooms also feel they should have their own piece of California’s potential billion-dollar sports betting pie.
But after voters struck down two measures last November, the push to make California one of the legal states to offer sports betting could remain lifeless.
Two Measures to Legalize Sports Betting Failed in November 2022
In November 2022, California voters had the opportunity to legalize sports betting in the state with the passage of Prop. 26 and Prop. 27.
Proposition 26 would allow tribal casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting at the tribe’s casinos and physical track locations. The measure did not provide the legalization of online sports betting that states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York currently enjoy.
Voters struck down the proposition by a two-to-one vote.
The other proposed sports betting measure, Proposition 27, offered California voters an online-only option that would have given popular national sportsbooks, such as FanDuel and DraftKings and Caesars which are legal in at least 25 states, the opportunity to offer sports betting through their various apps and websites, just as they do in various states across the nation.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom came out against Prop. 27 before the election, the measure failed by even a wider margin when compared to Prop. 26. Voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop 27 by more than 60 points.
Why Legal Sports Betting Will Fail To Pass in California
California’s gridlock when it comes to sports betting comes from several areas. First, the state’s Native American tribal groups run the vast majority of the state’s casinos. Of course, the tribes represent a strong lobby group that lawmakers must consider when drafting sports betting legislation. The tribal councils want sports betting without concessions to outside influences, although they did relent regarding including horse racing tracks in Proposition 26.
The state’s horse racing tracks found themselves included in Prop 26. Still, after the measure failed to garner enough support, the companies owning the gambling establishments might find themselves on the outside looking in on any future legislative measures.
Another factor in play when considering sports betting comes from the numerous card rooms in California. Hosting large poker tournaments and daily games, the card rooms have battled the Native American tribes on the expansion of gambling in the state, with sports betting being the latest playing field for the two groups to lock horns over.
At best, if the parties and lawmakers could find common ground, a new measure could find itself on the ballot in November 2024, a presidential election year that would elevate turnout.
But unless something changes in the hearts and minds of California voters, sports betting could find itself on the sidelines for years to come.