Today, a group of California cities made a big push to legalize sports betting in the Golden State. The coalition of cities submitted language to the California Attorney General’s office requesting an initiative to legalize sports betting appear on the November 2022 ballot. The proposal is titled The California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act.
First and foremost, the proposal aims to legalize California sports betting. Previous initiatives attempting to legalize have met with significant opposition. The state and its tribal operators have struggled to reach an agreement that would appease each party’s requests. The focus of this latest push, however, is to curb illegal gambling, which some surveys say generates up to $10 billion in unregulated revenue.
The initiative proposes a 25 percent tax rate plus a 1 percent remittance to responsible gambling programs. Licensees would be required to pay a one-time licensing fee of $5 million and a $1 million bi-annual license fee.
For the initiative to make the ballot, it must garner 997,139 signatures.
Eligible Sports Betting Operators
Notably, this proposal also allows for various types of organizations as license holders. State racing associations (e.g. racetracks), federally recognized Indian tribes, and state licensed gambling establishments are all eligible. Also on the list are all of California’s professional sports teams. Considering the state’s size, that’s a long list: California has five MLB teams, three NHL teams, four NBA teams, three NFL teams, one WNBA team, and three MLS teams. That’s a whopping 19 franchises eligible to apply for a license under this plan.
This is only a preliminary step toward fully legal sports betting in California. The sheer size of the state (both in area and population) assures that the process will be long and contentious. Of course, this proposal needs the required signature count to even earn space on the ballot. And after that, voters have to approve it. If and when that happens, an arduous regulatory and licensing application process will begin. Even if everything goes perfectly, California sports betting likely won’t be a reality until mid-2023 at the earliest.