California’s Tribal casinos that are booming today suffered stiff opposition in the past when they broke into the online gambling industry. As you can imagine, gambling interests like horse racing tracks, card rooms, etc., were their biggest rivals.
However, it seems California Tribal casinos are about to shake the table again with their interest in sports betting. Although sports betting is a lucrative aspect of gambling, it is currently not legal in California.
How will the California Tribe Casinos do it this time?
Obviously, with their huge influence on the legislature, legalizing sports betting in California seems sooner than later.
Impact of Legalizing Sports Betting in California
It is estimated that sports betting legalized in California would generate up to $2.5 billion per annum as tax revenue for the state. With this estimated tax revenue, it would be a very difficult offer for state lawmakers to resist legalizing sports betting in the state.
With a huge population and so many professional sports teams, California is most likely going to benefit immensely if sports betting is legalized. Besides, the estimated revenue of $2.5 billion annually may be exceeded considering the huge interest in sports in the state.
Aside from that, legalizing sports betting in California will also generate employment and other indirect jobs in other sectors of the state economy. California was heavily dependent on the revenues from land-based casinos. But the COVID-19 adversely affected the revenues generated from land-based casinos. Therefore legalizing sports betting in the state would increase the state’s revenue.
Also, for the tribal casinos, legalizing sports betting to be played at casino halls would create foot traffic too to the venues.
What Will It Take to Legalize Sports Betting in California?
To legalize sports betting in California requires a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature. In other words, it is almost impossible if all the parties involved are not on the same page. One of the expected hurdles is the state tribes. However, with the state tribe supporting the legalization of sports betting, it most likely scales through faster. Besides, with a proposal from the coalition of the state’s tribes, sports betting would be legalized in California.
Presently, California has 80 tribal casinos that host more than 70,000 slot machines. The tribal casinos have more than a total of 10,000 table games.
Meanwhile, with the tribal casinos supporting the move, the phase of if sports betting will be legalized is no longer ideal. Right now, the debate is now when will sports betting be legalized in California?
The tribal advocates of sports betting have the financial ability also to persuade California voters to see that their goal is achieved. In 2008, the tribe demonstrated its political strength when it spent over $115 million to protect four gaming compacts that some gaming interests in the state wanted to overturn.
According to California’s secretary of state’s office, more than 18-tribe coalition have gotten enough signatures to initiate the expansion of their sports betting bid on the November 2022 ballot. The California Gambling Control Commission may also regulate sports betting when it is legalized.
Overview of the Tribal Casinos in California
What started as bingo parlors in tents has now become a multibillion-dollar industry. The tribes got their break when the Supreme Court in 1987 gave them the power to run their casinos. Despite the stiff opposition California tribes faced in the beginning, they have to turn out to be major stakeholders in the gambling sector.
The Tribal casinos excelled by cleverly introducing slot machines and other table games to lure new gamblers. Also, they used the funds generated to persuade voters to see reasons why other forms of betting opposed to their operations should be regulated with stiffer measures. The Tribal casinos in California haul in an estimated $8 billion in revenues annually. Also, most of their revenues come from slot machines.
Are California’s Tribal Casinos Opposed to Online Gambling?
It seems so because the tribal casinos believe that their operations will be threatened. The tribal leaders are worried that the bettors would no longer visit the casinos if online casinos are legalized in California.
To them, online sports betting, if approved, would reduce foot traffic to their casinos. Hence, the need to legalize sports betting so that the request for online real money gambling sites may be reduced.
The Future of California Gambling Industry
Whether or not sports betting is introduced in the tribal casinos, online gambling is the way to go now. Considering the revenues lost by California during the lockdown, the fastest way to recover from the deficit is to legalize online sports betting in the state.
Finally, California can take a cue from other states like Pennsylvania that have legalized online casinos.