California Sports Betting
Those hoping for legalized sports betting in California will need to head back to the drawing board. The November 2022 ballot featured two different sports betting initiatives, Proposition 26 and Proposition 27.
The two initiatives, however, were soundly defeated on Election Day. As a result, legal California sports betting won’t come to fruition for at least two more years.
Here at PlayCA, we’re keeping a close watch on every new development. If you’re looking for information about the current status of California sports betting and its prospects going forward, you’ve come to the right place.
Latest news and updates
Updated: Dec. 5, 2022
The 2022 sports betting battle has come and gone, and one California tribe is showing gratitude to voters. The San Manuel tribe produced an ad thanking Californians for striking down Prop 27, which would have legalized online sports betting in the Golden State.
San Manuel is intimately involved in the sports betting scene. Earlier this year, a measure they put forth failed to gather enough signatures to advance to the 2024 ballot.
CA sports betting headlines
Snapshot of California sports betting
Here’s a quick look at some key elements of the California sports betting landscape.
- Sports betting legalized: Not yet. A pair of ballot initiatives were voted down in November of 2022. For now, Californians who want legal sports betting must travel to neighboring states Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.
- Launch: Late-2024, at the absolute earliest, for either in-person sports betting or an online launch. Initiatives would need to collect signatures and be approved by the public during the 2024 election.
- Anticipated apps: Depends on legislation, although the state could handle a dozen or more if allowed. DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, among others, would almost certainly be among the first operators to launch California sports betting apps if an online sports betting initiative passes.
- Legal age for sports betting: 21+.
Proposition 26, also known as the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, was the first sports betting proposal to secure its position on the ballot. Colloquially it’s the “tribal initiative.”
Proposition 27, also known as the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act, received its certification in July 2022. People also refer to it as the “online initiative.”
Retail. Prop 26 has no provisions for online sports betting. Furthermore, it states that online sports betting cannot occur in California for at least five years.
The Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Betting, a group of federally recognized tribes in California. The tribes have dozens of casinos among them and stand to benefit as the primary providers of sports betting in the state. The only other locations able to offer sports betting would be the state’s four racetracks. The proposition excludes California card rooms, which is in keeping with the tribes’ insistence that the rooms are not legitimate under state law.
This measure would prohibit wagering on in-state colleges and universities. Wagering on out-of-state colleges would be legal, so long as their opponents are not California teams. Any game involving a California university would be subject to the restriction, regardless of its location. However, it does not appear that popular events, such as the NCAA tournament (which the proposal mentions explicitly), would be subject to the restriction.
The state’s collection of 10% of gross revenues from sports betting is earmarked for broad subject areas where shortfalls abound. First and foremost, a portion of the taxes would help fund responsible gambling initiatives in the state. The remaining tax revenues would go into the state’s general fund to support educational and public safety needs and projects.
This proposal would also do away with the longstanding ban on the use of dice and balls in tribal casino games. In other words, the casinos would be able to offer standard craps and roulette, rather than the card-based versions in use now. The measure avoids any mention or acknowledgment of the state’s card rooms, which would suffer a tremendous blow if the measure becomes law.
Online. There are no stipulations for in-person sports betting in this proposal.
A coalition of top online sportsbooks is the primary driver of this effort. Companies like BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Bally’s have lent their vocal and monetary support to this initiative. While the measure calls for these companies to partner with tribal entities in California, most of the state’s tribes oppose it.
There are no types of bets that this proposal explicitly restricts. However, the measure affords the regulatory body quite a bit of latitude in terms of its veto power. The only definitive restrictions are on who can wager. First, owners, employees and the families of those two groups cannot wager at their own sportsbook. A similar restriction applies to athletes and other professionals involved with a particular sport — they cannot place wagers on their sport.
Although this initiative suggests the same 10% tax rate as the retail option, it diverges wildly by requiring sportsbooks to pay $100 million for their initial licenses and $10 million annually to renew. As the title of the proposition suggests, most of the money (85%) would go to support initiatives to combat homelessness. The remaining 15% would go to tribes not participating as sportsbook partners.
Although most of the state’s tribes oppose this measure, some support it. The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California, and the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe are all on record that they are in favor of the measure.
California online sportsbook sites
If California legalizes online sports betting, here are some of the top online sportsbooks that could become available:
DraftKings is a well-known name in California due to its daily fantasy sports site. Its online sportsbook is a star in its own right, thanks to its long list of sports and innovative app design. A top feature on DraftKings is its betting carousel, which offers a custom list of bets based upon your previous activity and the preferences you’ve stated, offering a more personal experience.
BetMGM Sportsbook represents the casino giant MGM Resorts International with a long and diverse list of sports on which to bet. Even more esoteric options, like Gaelic sports, have odds for betting. BetMGM also lets you adjust your open bets in a way that few other sportsbooks match.
Another company that initially made its mark as a DFS provider, the FanDuel Sportsbook app is notable due to its live betting and live streaming options. The biggest factor that sets it apart is its navigation, which makes it easy to find the information you need. The app also made a name for itself early on with same game parlays.
Bally Bet Sportsbook
Bally Bet is the sportsbook for Bally’s, a well-known gambling company. The online sportsbook itself is rather new, having launched in 2021, but it offers an easy-to-use app and competitive odds. The Bally’s name also carries some weight. However, the options and features on the app are still a work in progress that can still use some polish.
WynnBet is similar to Bally Bet because it is a new app from a trusted name in gambling. The app debuted in early 2022 and is the online sportsbook brand for Wynn Resorts, which operates the Wynn and Encore casino chains. Its presentation is suitably slick, but there are still some hiccups regarding the actual depth.
Retail sports betting in California
If a retail sports betting initiative does manage to pass, then there will be dozens of possible locations for retail sportsbooks in the state. Northern California casinos and Southern California casinos would all likely offer sportsbooks and sports betting.
In addition, four select horse racing venues in the state could also be sportsbook locations. Here are some of the most prominent possibilities for retail sportsbook locations in the Golden State:
- Pechanga Resort Casino: 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 92592
- Thunder Valley Casino Resort: 1200 Athens Ave., Lincoln, CA 95648
- Viejas Casino & Resort: 5000 Willows Road, Alpine, CA 91901
- Santa Anita Park: 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007
- Del Mar Thoroughbred Club: 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014
How to sign up at an online sportsbook
No matter how many might end up launching, the sign-up process would be fairly similar:
- Download the app and install it on your device.
- Register for an account and deposit money.
- Place a wager via the list of sports on the left or the featured bets in the center of the display.
Some states have temporarily mandated that new bettors visit one of the books in person to register their accounts. In fact, Nevada requires you to travel for most financial transactions, too.
Sportsbook apps use geolocation and your mobile device’s GPS to track your location. Although this is quite accurate, it also errs on the side of caution. If you are near the state lines or are getting a fuzzy signal, you might find the book denying you service incorrectly.
Bonuses and promotions
The exact bonuses will vary from book to book, but they usually fall into one of the following categories:
- No Deposit/Welcome Bonus: Free site credits or bet vouchers.
- Deposit Bonus: The app matches your deposit amount according to a specific percentage, up to a set maximum.
- Risk-Free Bet: You wager as usual and keep anything you win. However, if you lose, you’ll receive a refund in site credits equal to a percentage of your total loss.
- Loyalty Program: Same as at casinos, these offer chances at free or discounted swag, meals, or experiences.
- Odds Boost: Rotating list of bets with augmented payouts, generally around an extra 15% to 33% of the original payout amount.
Placing bets on California sports teams
California is home to more major professional sports teams than any other state in the country, each with a passionate fanbase. Here are the main options should legal betting of some type become available:
- Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
- Golden State Warriors (NBA)
- LA Galaxy (MLS)
- Los Angeles Angels (MLB)
- Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)
- Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
- Los Angeles FC (MLS)
- Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
- Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
- Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
- Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA)
- Oakland Athletics (MLB)
- Sacramento Kings (NBA)
- San Diego Padres (MLB)
- San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
- San Francisco Giants (MLB)
- San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
- San Jose Sharks (NHL)
California is also home to more Division I colleges and universities than any other state.
California sports betting history
In 2017, Assemblymember Adam Gray tried and failed to introduce a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in the event that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned. In 2018, the US Supreme Court did overturn PASPA, but California was unable to revisit the issue until the following year.
In 2019, Gray and Sen. Bill Dodd each proposed bills in their respective state chambers to include a ballot question about legalizing sports betting. Before those bills could get a hearing, however, the influential tribes introduced a different initiative designed to limit legal sports betting to tribal casinos and racetracks. That plan was thwarted, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the tribes from being able to gather the necessary signatures to secure a place on the 2020 ballot for their initiative.
Meanwhile, Gray and Dodd pursued their bills, adding details authorizing tribal casinos and racetracks to offer both retail and online sports betting while also offering some legal support for California cardrooms. The tribes objected to that latter idea and refused to support the bills. By June 2020, Dodd and Gray withdrew their legislation, as it was clear it would not advance in time to meet the deadline to make the November ballot.
The tribes subsequently redirected their efforts toward getting their initiative on the 2022 ballot, and ultimately succeeded in doing so (as did supporters of an initiative that would legalize online sports betting). That’s where the discussion stands at present.