Californian pro sports are about to change

The voters of California are preparing for a monumental election for pro sports. In November of this year, the issue of sports betting will be on the ballot, and there are currently two main options for voters to consider. A vote for the legalization of sports betting in California could lead to drastic funding changes for the communities, for better and worse. 

For the past four years, more than half of the American states have to some extent legalized sports wagering. These have included large states such as New York as well as the district of Washington D.C., and each time the decision has been met with success. However, California – the most populous state – remains as one of the 17 states yet to legalize sports betting. That may change this November. 

Potential opening for other forms of online gambling 

If the state was to legalize online sports betting, it might pave the way for other forms of online gambling as well. This would include casino games, such as those found at, which are only legal in a handful of states as of today. Similarly, to online betting, this type of legalization could further improve customer protection and the community benefits from increased tax revenues. 

The “crown jewel” of sports betting

The issue of Californian gambling has been one of the biggest topics of the American gambling community for a while. It is expected that the legalization would enable market revenues of $3 billion in annual in-state revenue. 

Several experts have argued that the remaining restrictions in the grand state of California has been holding up legalization in the rest of the country. California has been called the “crown jewel” and the “holy grail” of the American betting market if the legalization were to pass, and it is expected to prompt the remaining states to legalize gambling as well. 

Two major propositions

The November 8-election most likely offers two competing gambling legislations. The propositions, which are currently being promoted throughout the state, further demonstrate the current power struggles within the Californian gambling market. 

Option 1: The Native American option

The gambling landscape in California today is largely run by Native American casinos. This setup is part of the agreement between the tribes and the Californian state. 

Tribal monopoly

In the Native American proposition for the sports betting ballot, the tribal communities propose that they have monopoly over the sports betting functions, and that the bets only be made in-person. The revenues made from the sports betting taxes would be reallocated to help local communities by funding public schools and wildfire protection, as well as maintain the Native American self-reliance.

No online betting 

The decision to only offer in-person betting is made to lessen the risk of problematic gambling, as well as to keep the big out-of-state corporations out of the Californian market. It is estimated that the online betting form is far superior to in-person betting in regions where it’s legal, representing between 85-90% of all bets being made.

Card room backlash

However, the option has also faced backlash for taking jobs from the popular non-tribal card rooms, as sports betting is the most popular genre of gambling. Thus, Native American monopoly would take away the revenue that the local card rooms are generating, potentially harming smaller communities’ major source of income. 

Option 2: The Online Betting option

The second option is more radical as it aims to introduce online sports betting to the state. The proposition has gained major support from several mayors as well as many big in-state and out-of-state businesses. 

Online betting to tackle homelessness and mental health

This option proses an introduction of online sports gambling, in order to maximize the expanded market and bring in new tax revenue. The proposition suggests that their option would serve the local communities better, as 85% of the tax revenues would go to funding anti-homelessness and mental health initiatives. 

Not enough votes

Whereas the Native American option has already gained enough signatures to go on the ballot, the online betting one has not. This is to some extent since Californians feel it is unfair for non-local businesses to decide how their revenues should help the Californian local communities. However, the proposition is on track to meet the requirements before the deadline.

No clear predicted winner

As of now, there is no clear predicted outcome. According to a study made by UC Berkeley, 45% of Californians support the expansion of gambling rights, 33% oppose it, and 22% are unsure. Among those in favor, the overwhelming majority are persons with a strong interest in professional sports, whereas the majority of the dissenters are persons with little to no interest in the same category.

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