California is an exercise in frustration. Legal sports betting simply cannot get going in the Golden State. Most recently, a proposed ballot initiative failed to gain enough signatures to make it onto the ballot.
Past efforts for sports betting legalization have stalled without ever making it out of the legislative process. Time is also running exceedingly short for the measure to pass through the needed committees and be the subject of a full vote.
Moreover, the state’s powerful tribes — which generate approximately $8 billion annually – would potentially be in opposition to the legalization of sports betting as a form of gaming expansion within the state. Notably, various pieces of online poker legislation have experienced an abundance of opposition from the tribes over the last decade in California for similar reasons.
When will California sports betting be legal?
The possible launch date for legal California sports betting is unknown at the moment. There are two ongoing initiatives presently under consideration, both involving the state’s Indian tribes.
The first would legalize sports wagering at land-based Indian casinos and horse racing tracks exclusively. This plan would not include online/mobile wagering for the foreseeable future. This initiative is being advanced by the tribes themselves.
The second effort stems from the state’s legislature. Under that plan, online/mobile wagering would be made available on platforms affiliated with the tribal casinos and racetracks. This plan is opposed by the tribes because it would also allow the state’s cardrooms to continue offering the house-banked card games the tribes feel infringe on their exclusivity.
It’s possible that either or both measures are put on the ballot as early as in November 2020. However, for that to become reality, each will have to qualify for the ballot by June 25. The tribes’ initiative suffered a setback in their already advanced signature collection efforts for the ballot when the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread stay-at-home orders.
A lawsuit filed by the tribes with the Superior Court of the State of California on June 9 seeks to obtain an extension on the timeline needed to gather and verify the necessary signature to qualify the measure for the ballot this November.
How does California sports betting work?
There currently is no legal sports betting framework in California, although there are two initiatives under consideration.
Where can I bet on sports in California?
At the moment, there is no legal sports betting framework in California. Depending on which of the two competing initiatives eventually passes via voter referendum, bettors will either be limited to placing sports bets at Indian tribe brick-and-mortar casino locations and racetracks (the tribes’ initiative) or through online/mobile platforms associated with Indian tribe casinos and racetracks (legislative initiative).
How old do I have to be to place sports bets in California?
There is currently no legal sports betting in California. However, based on other gambling-related activities in the state, it would be reasonable to expect that bettors will have to be at least 21 years of age to place a bet whenever wagering is legalized.
How do I begin betting on sports in CA?
With no legal sports betting currently available in California, there is naturally no set policy and procedures in place for establishing a betting account in California.
However, following the model of other states, it’s expected that bettors will have to provide the following basic information to open an account:
- Phone number
- Social security number for tax purposes
- Valid e-mail address if online account
How do I withdraw my winnings?
Sports betting is not yet available in the state of California, and it remains to be seen if the initiative that allows online wagering will be the one that eventually is codified into law.
If online/mobile wagering is eventually available in California, it’s reasonable to expect that operators will offer the conventional withdrawal methods they typically make available in other states where legalized betting is already available.
These methods include:
- Prepaid card supplied by the operator
However, if sports betting is limited to brick-and-mortar locations, then withdrawal options may be limited to checks or in-person withdrawals on site at sportsbooks.
Can I use my online sportsbook account outside of California?
Sports betting is not yet available in the state of California. If the measure being advanced by state’s Indian tribes is the proposal that is eventually voted on and passed, there would not be online wagering allowed. All bets under that plan as currently proposed would have to be made in person at the tribes’ brick-and-mortar casinos.
If the measure being advanced by the legislature is the one eventually voted on and passed, online wagering through platforms associated with tribal casinos and racetracks would be available. In this instance, bettors would physically have to be located within California – as verified by geolocation technology – in order to place a wager.
Will sports betting odds be competitive in California?
Naturally, it will be in the best interest of sportsbooks to offer competitive odds once sports betting is legalized in California. A principal factor will be what kind of tax rate and licensing fees operators are expected to pay under a legal sports betting framework.
What sports can I bet on in California?
If and when sports betting is legalized in California, it is expected that operators will be able to offer wagering on all major sports, as is the case in all other states already offering legalized wagering. That includes the following sports/leagues:
- NCAA sports
Which California sports teams will I be able to bet on?
Should the state pass legal sports betting legislation, betting on the following teams, in addition to the major colleges, will likely be permitted:
- Los Angeles Angels (MLB)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
- Oakland A’s (MLB)
- San Diego Padres (MLB)
- San Francisco Giants (MLB)
- Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)
- Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
- San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
- Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
- Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
- Golden State Warriors (NBA)
- Sacramento Kings (NBA)
- Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
- Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
- San Jose Sharks (NHL)
What types of bets can I make in California?
If and when sports betting is legalized in California, it is expected that bettors will have access to the following types of wagers:
- Moneyline: A wager on which team will win the game outright, regardless of margin of victory.
- Spreads: A bet based on the projected margin of victory that is set by oddsmakers.
- Totals: A bet on the combined score and whether it will be over or under a line set by sportsbooks.
- Futures: A bet on an outcome that has not yet happened.
- Parlays: A parlay is a bet that encompasses wagers on at least two separate sporting events. For a parlay wager to be deemed successful, all the bets that comprise it must be winning ones. If any wager within a parlay is a losing one, then the entire parlay is null and void.
- Props: Proposition wagers are bets that are typically based on metrics such as individual statistical milestones and team milestones.
In-game wagering and live betting
There is no specific indication at this point that in-game wagering and live betting will be prohibited under either of the active sports betting proposals in California. However, there’s always the possibility that outlook is altered before either measure is put up for a voter referendum.
What companies will offer sports betting?
It remains to be seen what companies/operators would be part of California’s sports betting market. If the initiative advanced by the tribes were to be the one that is codified into law, there would be no online sports betting options in California. As such, there may be a more limited number of companies involved in the market partnering with the tribes to run their brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
However, if the legislative effort is the one that is eventually passed by voters, online/mobile betting would be made available to California residents. Under that scenario, there would be a substantial number of companies interested in entering the market, including:
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- Fox Bet
- theScore Bet
- William Hill Sportsbook
Where will California sports betting tax revenue go?
Without an official legal sports betting framework in place, there is no set breakdown of how tax revenue from sports betting would be allocated within California.
If the model from other states is generally followed, the bulk of the revenue will naturally go into California’s coffers, with small percentages potentially going toward problem gambling initiatives or administrative costs related to the oversight of the industry within the state.
Eilers and Krejcik project the legislative initiative would produce $503 million per year in revenue for the state when the market is fully mature, including $282 million during the first six months when factoring in expected licensing fees. Meanwhile, the tribes’ plan, which would not include online wagering, is projected to bring in approximately $200 million per year.