UNITED STATES—When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down by the US Supreme Court, on May 14, 2018, it paved the way for significant changes to the sports betting landscape in the country.

States were able to make their own decisions as to whether to legalize retail and online sports betting. New Jersey led the way. The state legislature took action just weeks after the Supreme Court decision. The results were impressive with $4.5 billion wagered in the first full year of legalized sports betting in the state, 2019.

There is a long way to go before California has a situation similar to the New Jersey sports betting market but it could be on its way.

The attraction of the potential sports betting market in New Jersey

You only have to look at the size of California’s population to understand why opening up a sports betting market in the state is an attractive proposition for commercial organizations and for the tribes.

There are more than 39 million residents in California. That is a huge potential customer base, one which is at least part of the driving force behind sports betting bills that could be voted on later this year.

California sports betting bills

At time of writing there is one sports betting bill that has achieved sufficient verified signatures to be voted on in November 2022. This is the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act that was put forward by the tribes.

The details of this act include:

  • 10% tax on gross revenues from sports betting.
  • Sports betting permitted only on tribal lands and at horse tracks in Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego.
  • Betting on school and college sports prohibited.
  • Betting only allowed if bettor is physically present.
  • Bettors must be at least 21 years old.

This bill does not include any provision for online sports betting as the tribes are not in favor of facilities that do not enable them to have control of the sports gambling market in the state.

Another bill,  The California Solutions for Homelessness and Mental Health Act, will also go to the vote in November 2022 if a minimum of 997,139 of its 1.6 million required signatures are verified by the California Secretary of State. This act has been put forward by a group of commercial operators.

The details of the act include:

  • 10% tax on gross revenues from sports betting of which 85% will fund homeless initiatives.
  • 15% of the tax raised to go to Native American tribes that are not involved with digital sports betting.
  • Commercial operators must partner with a tribe to enter the market.
  • Commercial operators to pay initial $100 million licensing fee and $10 million every five years to renew the license.
  • Tribes to pay $10 million for an initial online sports betting licence followed by a $1 million renewal fee every five years.
  • Bettors must be at least 21 years old.

There is also a third sports betting proposal that has been put forward by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. This includes allowing online sports betting with lower fees and control by the tribes. This proposal has not yet met its signature requirements and has until July 11, 2022, to do so.

Potential of a legal online sports betting market in California

If online sports betting is legalized in California, the state could become the largest sports betting market in the country due to the size of its population. It’s also worth noting that there are 19 different sports teams in California, so there is a lot of potential for people to choose to bet on their favorites.

It’s obvious that there is the opportunity for large revenues to be unleashed by the legalization of sports betting in California. However, this will be dependent on whether any of the proposed acts are voted in and whether online sports betting features in any act that is passed.