Del Mar Hopes To Be In The Running To Offer Sports Betting In CA

Written By Jessica Welman on August 24, 2017 - Last Updated on August 23, 2022
horses racing

Race season is wrapping up at Del Mar Racetrack. However, the track is hoping in the future, the action will continue well into the fall. The brass at the Southern California track are hoping they get a piece of California sports betting whenever it’s legalized.

Del Mar hoping racetracks can offer bets in California

Right now, no one can offer sports betting in the state. There is a proposed constitutional amendment which would be a step towards making it happen though.

Many states, including California, are proposing amendments and laws to pave the way for sports betting. The hope is that the Supreme Court case where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is challenging the major sports leagues on sports betting will go the Garden State’s way. The court should hear the case next year.

If New Jersey wins and SCOTUS deems the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional, it would open up sports betting across the country.

In order for California to be one of those states, voters would need to approve the idea via voter referendum.

Del Mar wining and dining CA Assemblyman

The Assemblyman behind the sports betting amendment is Adam Gray. He is a familiar face in the racing community. Just a few months ago, he actually authored a resolution to officially recognize jockey Mike Smith and horse Arrogate’s contribution to California horse racing.

Gray was present for opening day at Del Mar last month. The Del Mar Times reported he received the “royal treatment” too. Unsurprisingly, the following day, Gray announced his amendment proposal.

There are not many particulars on Gray’s amendment, which is causing some problems. For example, the tribes oppose the CA sports betting amendment.

The tribes were particularly annoyed that Gray announced his plan without consulting any California tribal casinos about the specifics. Additionally, there is no clarification or framework on who would be able to offer bets. There are several possibilities too:

Del Mar looking for more revenue streams beyond racing

Del Mar hopes it can get a piece of the pie. It is only conjecture, but on opening day, they likely chirped in Gray’s ear about possibilities. The racetrack’s President, Josh Rubenstein, even expressed his hopes to the Del Mar Times:

“It’s a very low-margin business, but imagine if Surfside Race Place on a football Saturday or Sunday in November was able to offer sports wagering. The amount of people that would be there is significant. And you’re picking up parking revenue, food and beverage. And from a racing standpoint we look at it as an opportunity to open our sport to a whole new base of people who are not necessarily horseracing fans currently.”

Like other racetracks across the country, Del Mar is looking for ways to diversify income streams as the sports wanes in popularity. Having an ally in Gray setting up a possible framework for sports betting is a good spot to be in. However, like online poker in California, it will be difficult to find a framework all the different gambling groups are willing to sign off on.

Photo by GeptaYs /

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Jessica Welman

A graduate of USC and Indiana University, Jessica Welman has long been involved in the poker industry. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and as the managing editor for

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