After closing out a huge year for sports betting, major US operators are already scoping out the territory in non-betting states. While 2021 brought historic legislation to states like Florida*, Maryland, and New York, 2022 is expected to be the year of westward expansion.
The next big fish to fry? California.
Betting Initiatives In The Golden State
With over 24 million sports betting patrons up for grabs, the stakes are high in the Golden State. Moreover, the 2022 Midterm Elections are just around the corner, making the tension even higher.
Up to four different sports betting ballot initiatives may be on the table for Californians come November. The first, already having met ballot qualifications, would authorize retail betting at tribal casinos and horse racing tracks.
California’s other ballot candidates aim for a more liberal approach to betting. They include provisions for commercial operators to host mobile betting as well as retail.
Because of the state’s population, sports betting is expected to become an expensive battle of the lobbyists. A political action committee for the tribes’ initiative already raised an impressive $13 million.
Betting Becomes A Multi-Million Dollar Ordeal
But commercial operators are pushing hard to enter California’s betting market. One of the initiatives, led by DraftKings and Fanduel, garnered upwards of $100 million in just two days. More astounding, the funds came from only seven contributors. Among them are:
- DraftKings – $16,666,667
- Penn National Gaming (Barstool Sports) – $12,500,000
- Bally’s Interactive – $12,500,000
- WSI (WynnBet) – $12,500,000
- BetFair – $16,666,667
- BetMGM – $16,666,667
- FBG Enterprises (Fanatics) – $12,500,000
These figures are massive. We’d also like to mention that each of these contributions was paid using loans. But given California’s massive gaming population, it makes sense.
If the commercial sportsbooks get their way, the return on this massive investment will be more than favorable. A DraftKings executive recently called the state “one of the holy grails” in sports betting.
Still, some fear that voters will be overwhelmed by all of the ballot initiatives, further hindering the state’s chances at betting by 2023.
With so many competitors vying for a slightly different version of California sports betting, these operators may be cannibalizing their own interests.
The Weight Of California’s Impact
Should voters approve of any sports betting law in 2022, the remaining non-betting states are expected to soon follow. Law professor Marc Edelman elaborated on this point:
“If we think about progressive legislation, or legislation to protect consumer welfare, California lies at the forefront… If California legalizes sports gambling it becomes very unlikely that another state would arise as the consumer-oriented opposer of sports gambling.”
Marc Edelman, Baruch College NYC
Edelman isn’t wrong but, then again, the rest of the US has been slow to follow the Golden State on other measures such as recreational cannabis.
Nonetheless, California sports betting is now a very real proposition. Voters in the state should begin researching the sports betting initiatives to prepare for this historic upcoming election.
Source: New York Times