California Sports Betting

California casinos

Legal sports betting in California is a few years away following the recent defeat of Propositions 26 and 27. While a number of highly-populated states have implemented online and retail sports betting industries, the country’s most populous state has yet to come close. 

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: Jan. 25, 2023

While Props 26 and 27 were defeated on Election Day, that doesn’t mean there’s no sports betting news to be had in California. This past month, WynnBET announced an agreement with GAN Sports. The Irvine-based technology provider will build WynnBET’s future online sports betting platforms.

Also, in the latest twist in the case of former Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, he has been hit with an obstruction charge. Puig was ensnared in a sports betting investigation and initially pled guilty to charges of lying to federal agents. However, he changed his plea in late-2022 and is taking his chances with a jury.

Snapshot of California sports betting

Here’s a quick look at some key elements of the California sports betting landscape.

  • Is sports betting legal in California?: 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.
  • When will it be legal?: 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+.

What happened with Prop 26 and Prop 27?

Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 gave California voters a pair of sports betting options on the 2022 Election Day ballot. Prop 26 would have legalized sports betting at California tribal casinos and select horse racing venues. Meanwhile, Prop 27 offered an online sports betting option and was backed by industry heavyweights such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

Prop 26 was backed by a coalition of California Native American tribes, and it also would have allowed tribal casinos to spread dice and roulette games. However, when operators succeeded in getting Prop 27 on the ballot, tribal efforts were instead concentrated on defeating that measure, rather than passing their own.

More than $458 million was spent on campaigns for and against these initiatives, making it the most expensive ballot initiative contest in United States history. Ultimately, both measures were not just defeated, but crushed.

More than 82% of voters said no to Prop 27. In addition, 67% of the electorate rejected Prop 26. As a result, those wanting legal sports betting in California will need to wait until at least 2024.

So what’s next for California sports betting?

The next time sports betting in California could be legalized is 2024. In that timeframe, new initiatives need to be crafted and signatures from California residents need to be gathered.

The San Manuel tribe has already undertaken significant signature-gathering efforts ahead of that campaign. However, their sports betting initiative fell short and will not be on the 2024 ballot.

What initiatives may or may not appear on that ballot is anyone’s guess, at this point. However, industry analysts generally agree that California tribes have all the leverage. Their efforts played a major role in the outcome of the 2022 election. Finding ways to earn tribal approval must be top of mind for anyone looking to pass sports betting legislation.

Potential California online sportsbook sites

If California legalizes online sports betting, here are some of the top online sportsbooks that could become available:

DraftKings Sportsbook

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

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.


 

FanDuel Sportsbook

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 Sportsbook

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.

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)
  • Angel City FC (NWSL)
  • 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 Diego Wave FC (NWSL)
  • 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 that year’s November ballot.

That led to the 2022 election. As mentioned, a pair of initiatives were soundly defeated at the ballot box. As a result, the future of California sports betting is largely unknown, at this point.

The earliest another sports betting initiative could be up for a vote is 2024. A proposition would need to go through the signature-gathering process and be approved for that year’s ballot.

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