Proponents of legal sports betting in California are a hearty bunch. Despite years of trying and failing to legislate their own legal sports betting platform, those in favor haven’t been deterred from trying new ways to bring about what would be the nation’s largest sports wagering market.
On Tuesday, a group of high-end sports betting providers revealed their proposal for a future launch in California. A coalition including Bally’s, BetMGM, Fanatics Betting & Gaming, Penn National/Barstool Sportsbook, Wynn and the two DFS giants operating in the broader US scene have committed $100 million toward an initiative to bring about sports betting for the state with revenues from their plan earmarked for one of the most high-profile issues currently dominating headlines there.
The coalition of sportsbook operators were able to draft and put forth a comprehensive plan for launch of a legal sports betting industry in California. They were to present their proposal to the state’s Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday.
The plan would be for sportsbooks to team up with the state’s tribes to launch a mobile-only platform. As Campaign Manager Dana Williamson told Politico: “Any online sports betting operator seeking to participate in the California marketplace must do so by partnering with a California tribe. A portion of the measure’s revenue is dedicated to uplifting Tribal communities.”
The “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act” aims to bring about sports betting with the bulk of the revenues (about 85%) being directed to the out-of-control homelessness and mental health crisis plaguing California. The other 15% has been earmarked for Tribal communities.
“Permanent solutions require a permanent funding source. The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act will raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually to fight homelessness and expand mental health support in California by allowing regulated entities to offer safe, responsible sports betting online,” Dana Williamson, the veteran political strategist said.
The coalition of sportsbook operators didn’t stop with where the revenues would be directed. Their proposal was broad and complete and is said to bring about a competitive, open market for the state.
The operators’ have suggested a mobile-only sports betting platform that will allow Californians to place bets on professional, college and amateur sports. There is no cap on the number of mobile sportsbooks although with 100 or so tribes in California and 70 casinos, the total number of books would max out somewhere between those two figures.
Under the proposal, the tax rate would be an industry-friendly 10% with the application fees being an unfriendly and national-high $100 million for operators that align with one of the state’s tribes. For tribes that decide to forego a national brand partnership, that fee will be $10 million. The initial fees would be good for 5 years.
The providers’ idea is for the market to be an established, experienced one out of the gate. The wording in the proposal stipulates that prospective operators would have to be active in at least 10 U.S. jurisdictions OR operate 12 casinos in the U.S.
Other Proposals Floating Around California
To muddy the potential California legal sports betting scene a little more, the latest operators’ proposal will be competing with two other legal sports betting ideas that will likely be presented to voters in November 2022.
First is the tribal offer that would see a retail-only platform be created on tribal lands only. The other comes from a group consisting of lawmakers from a collection of cities in California along with the California Attorney General’s Office. Their proposal would see statewide mobile sports betting coming to the state with few strings attached.
Each will be required to gain 1 million signatures to make it on the 2022 ballot and all should reach that threshold easily.
The Potential California Market
California, if and when they bring on a legal sports betting component would easily be the biggest market in the US and eclipse the markets of many entire countries that currently allow wagers on sports.
The state boasts 15 professional teams representing four major sports leagues and an American-high 40 million people. According to Eilers & Krejcik, a research firm that has advised state lawmakers on the issue, California could generate $200 million in annual revenue from taxes and licensing tied to a legal sports betting industry and that total could reach $500 million upon maturity of the platform.
Chris Grove, a managing director for Eilers and Krejcik Gaming said: “California is easily the largest prize in the U.S. sports betting market.” BetMGM in a press release called California “one of the most important betting markets in the world.”
The momentum for a legal sports betting platform in California is definitely there. But there are still many moving parts that will have to be satisfied before anything is finalized for hopeful bettors in the state.
First and foremost are the state’s tribes that have so far been against any sort of mobile sports betting in the state. There has been signs of some movement on that issue of late, however.
The state’s card rooms will have to be satisfied as will lawmakers whose job is to ultimately make something happen for operators that are hoping to make California home.
The latest plan by some of the best legal sports betting provider minds in the country should gather steam going forward. But we have heard this tune in California before and nothing, when it comes to a legal sports betting platform there, is a sure thing.