CA Sports Betting Bill Leaves Card Rooms Hanging In The Balance

California, widely regarded as the potentially largest sports betting market, has taken a significant step closer to welcoming the regulations which will open up legal sports wagering. However, the new sports betting bill has a major caveat in that any new opportunities will be restricted to tribal interests and racetracks.

Effectively, this leaves the state’s 70-plus card room estate outside the action while they will be allowed under the new law to continue providing approved player games without challenge from the tribes.

Legal Sports Report has summed up the details of the latest proposals. They include a gross income tax rate of 10 percent for on-site wagering and 15 percent for mobile or online wagering. There will be an initial licence charge of $5 m and an electronic wagering site charge of $1 m per annum. Licensees will pay 1 percent of their revenue to fund gambling problem programmes.

The four licenced horse racing tracks in California can also have sports betting at one satellite wagering facility, whereas each tribe, racetrack and satellite facility authorised to offer sports betting can do so through one website. Providers will be mandated to utilise official league data for in-play wagers.

As the new bill aims to promote outcomes that match all stakeholders, there is still likely to be pushback from card room operators who want more opportunity to expand the company through sport wagering. Tribal interests, too, do not accept the legislation they say see a continuation of off-reservation ‘casino-style’ games allowed.

And the tribes’ own ballot initiative is still in play to bring legal sports wagering to California that faces a sign-off deadline of June 25.

The bitter feud between tribes and card rooms is looking set to continue for the time being. There is also the issue of how much tax revenue will be lost if sports betting is the only tribal casinos and racetracks protection.