Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: Prohibited sports betting
ETA: 2020 public referendum on the horizon
Following the removal of PASPA, the people of California have yet to decide what path they wish to take in terms of legalizing sports betting. In 2017, Adam Gray, an Assembly member, put forward a constitutional amendment that would “permit sports wagering only if a change in federal law occurs”.
That change in federal law happened when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey being able to regulate sports betting within its state borders, so the hare is running for Californians to follow suit.
2016– Democrat Adam Merced attempted to introduce an assembly bill on sports betting in 2016 but the bill failed to secure meaningful progress.
2017– Merced tried again the following year with a constitutional amendment, but this too failed to obtain sufficient support in the legislating body. However, Adam Gray’s ACA-18 measure soon gained traction, but failed to get in front of voters in time to be enacted into law in 2018.
2019– Talk is rife of a group called Californians for Sports Betting, submitting initial petition paperwork, requesting that the state’s attorney general considers putting the legalization of sports betting to a public ballot in November 2020.
Despite the state’s prohibitive sports betting legislation, California has a rich tradition of gambling through the decades. It still has a string of active tribal casinos, with more than 50 in operation today. Furthermore, California is home to around 100 card rooms, hosting live Texas Hold’em poker tournaments and cash games around-the-clock. California is also passionate about horse racing, with the likes of Santa Anita Racecourse and Del Mar Race Track home to some of America’s Grade 1 racing events.
Given California’s relative proximity to Nevada and Las Vegas, the people of the Golden State have long enjoyed weekend pilgrimages to “Sin City”, but an opportunity to legalize sports betting for the future would open up a multi-billion-dollar market for the state’s reserves.
Unfortunately, sports betting remains illegal in California until further notice. However, there is mounting talk of a possible referendum for Californians on sports betting in November 2020.
At the time of writing, there is no defined organization or body that has been created or nominated to oversee the operation of legalized sports betting facilities in California. This would suggest that legal sports wagering is still some way off coming to fruition.
Although there is no official confirmation on this, all sports betting bills that have passed have designated 21 as the minimum age required to legally bet on sports. It’s likely that California would follow suit.
Until sports betting has been formally legalized in California, you won’t find anywhere within the state boundary that offers legalized betting on sports – both offline and online.
There are no sports betting facilities or establishments with a license to offer legalized sports betting in California.
You won’t find any operators able to offer legalized sports wagering anywhere within the Californian border.
At present, no native mobile apps or web applications offer legalized sports betting in California. Some users may consider using mobile apps of offshore sports betting operators to place their bets, but there will be no recourse for bettors who utilize overseas sportsbooks that aren’t regulated in California.
In 2016, the American Gaming Association (AGA) forecast that some $154 billion was wagered on professional sports across the U.S. that year. At the time, almost the entirety of these wagers were illegal due to the advent of the Professional and Amateur Sport Protection Act (PASPA).
By extrapolating this figure and using a per-capita betting ratio, it’s possible to forecast that California’s 39 million-plus people would have wagered an estimated $18.7 million. Given the state is the most populous in America, it certainly represents the biggest opportunity for legalized sports betting.
As sports betting in California is yet to be legalized, there is no applicable tax rate at present.
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