Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the states can decide for themselves whether to legalize sports gaming, several states are poised to allow sports gaming. And, California is one of them. Whether the Golden State decides to allow sports gaming will be based on several factors. In addition, gaming experts say that while it is possible California may choose to allow sports gaming, it may not happen overnight.
What Kind of Gambling Is Currently Allowed in California?
While many people assume that California has all forms of gambling in the United States, that is not the case. California has the largest number of Native American casinos in the country. Currently, there are 69 casinos operating in the state, and they are owned by more than half the state’s 109 tribes. Fifty casinos are currently operational, and there are 16 casinos with resorts for an extended guest stay.
Three of the casinos are considered mini-casinos, which means they have a small number of machines and table games. In all, California’s Native American casinos boast 70,000 slot machines and more than 2,000 table games. However, no other casinos exist in California other than those. And, while they dot the landscape in California, there are no large-scale casino resorts like the ones seen in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. In addition, while many Native American tribes benefit from the money from their casinos, not all are profitable in the state. The tribes collectively brought in nearly $8 billion of gambling revenue in 2017 and nearly $500 million in state taxes.
In addition to Native American casinos, California has a state lottery, which has state games, as well as both Mega Millions and Powerball affiliations. The lottery in California takes in approximately $5 billion yearly. California also allows poker rooms, betting on horse racing and online gaming. Most games in California have an over-21 limit.
California also has a significant revenue stream in the sale and production of marijuana and marijuana products, which began in January 2018. In the first two months of the year, the business brought an estimated $340 million of revenue into the state.
Why California May Choose Sports Gaming
The consensus appears to be it is not a question of if the state will choose sports gaming, but when, and who will control the action: tribal casinos, poker rooms, or horse racing tracks? California’s Native American casinos appear to be ready to make a claim to house sportsbooks because they are already poised for both on-site and online play. This could bring them additional revenue in the billions of dollars. However, horse tracks have said they should figure in the debate as well because they are already set up for sports betting and could add online features.
Some legislators have mentioned that there may be a way for both casinos and horse tracks to offer sportsbooks to maximize exposure to what is bound to be a lucrative enterprise. It is estimated that across the United States each year, about $400 billion is spent, legally and illegally, on sports betting. California, with one of the largest budgets of any state in the United States, must increasingly look to its own government coffers for revenue.
Presently, the federal government disagrees with the state’s immigration policy and other social issues, and is, therefore, reluctant to give California any additional funds. It may be that the state of California decides to allow gambling out of a sense of necessity rather than out of a sense of liberty for the rights of its citizens.
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