Breaking Down Every Legal Sports Betting Option California will Vote on in 2022

Eric Uribe
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Breaking Down Every Legal Sports Betting Option California will Vote on in 2022

By now, no one should be wondering why the inability to bet on sports in California is such a big deal. In the event you've been living under a rock, though, the far-flung interest in the future of sports betting in Cali is twofold.

First, more than half of the United States has legalized sports betting in some form, putting California among the minorites. And given how robust their professional sports market is, the amount of revenue the state government has left on the table remains noteworthy.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the future of legal sports betting in California will impact other holdout states. So, when they vote on the matter during the November 2022 elections, California residents won't just be influencing policy within their own state, but they'll most likely tip the scales one way or another for every other state that has yet to green light legal sports betting.

There's also the matter of mock polls which show the majority of California residents favor legalized sports betting. These are tough to ignore—particularly when so many Californians are already using illegal domestic bookies, crossing state lines to place bets and even checking out reviews of the top online sportsbooks to see which ones will accept wagers despite their location.

In other words: The stakes are high for this year's upcoming vote. They are also, somehow, unclear. Concrete details on which sports betting bills will actually make the ballot are tough to come by. Fortunately, though, we've scoured the internet for the latest information, and we can confirm that California residents will most likely have three options from which to choose when November rolls around. Let's break them all down.

The Tribal Sports Betting Proposal in California has the Stamp of Approval

At this time, there is only one official sports betting proposal that's technically guaranteed to appear on the November ballot. And it's the one being led by the tribes who run all the casinos and card rooms throughout the state.

Under this proposal, sports betting would be legalized throughout California, but the licenses to accept wagers would be limited to tribal-run operations only. This would, by extension, prohibit the state from opening up the process to larger companies with more established online presences.

This might sound counterintuitive to some. Why would tribes want a monopoly on sports-betting offerings when they're not as experienced in the online-wagering market place? Well, the thinking goes that their business would be adversely impacted by the addition of new competition. 

Not only would they have to jockey for online business with companies such as DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars, but they argue that their on-site traffic inside casinos and card rooms would plummet as people pivot toward placing sports wagers from their mobile devices with one of the bigger companies.

It's clear this argument holds weight within California. Sure, the tribes have invested a lot in lobbying throughout this procedure. But so have the corporate sports betting entities. For tribal operations to currently have the only sanctioned bill on the 2022 ballot is a big deal.

Corporate Sportsbooks are Gaining Ground on the California Ballot

The second option that's widely expected to join the tribal-led proposal on the 2022 ballot is exactly what you think it is: a bill that would allow bigger sportsbooks to apply and pay for licenses that permit them to operate online and on-site within the state of California.

This measure is currently backed by all the heavy hitters: DraftKings, BetGM, FanDuel, Fanatics Betting and Game, Bally's Interactive, WynnBet and Penn National Gaming. Collectively, they contributed $100 million to a campaign being packaged as the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Support Act. This bill would ensure that 85 percent of the state's revenue from legal sports betting would go to the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Support Account.

The campaign has until May to submit a petition with slightly more than 997,000 signatures. At this writing, they are on pace to exceed that, which is why so many believe this proposal will appear on November's ballot.

Tribal Card Rooms Making a Push for Inclusion

Another proposal with the potential to make the November ballot is also bouncing around California at the moment. This one focuses on the future of sports betting and gaming in card rooms.

Under this measure, tribal-run card rooms would be able to join tribal casinos in offering both retail (in-person) and online betting. They'd be allowed to expand the types of on-site games they're allowed to carry, as well.

It is also expected to gain enough support to make the ballot, though there is some speculation that it could just be folded into the original tribal-only bill.

Will Sports Betting Be Legalized in California?

As we've said before, the future of sports betting in California isn't so much a matter of if, but when and how

Right now, it doesn't look like legal sports betting will hit Cali until sometime in 2023—at the earliest. As for what form it will take, we can't be sure.

Will it be tribal-run operations only that are allowed to accept retail and online bets? Will bigger corporations successfully join the fray? Will you be able to place bets through card rooms? Could their be a hybrid bill that hasn't yet been proposed that would allow corporate sportsbooks to partner with tribes while still leaving overarching control with the tribes themselves?

All these questions will be answered in November. Hopefully.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that will successfully fulfill all your online sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Eric Uribe

Eric has been passionate about sports since he was 10 years old. He brings over 10 years of sports journalism experience to his expert coverage of sports betting. Hailing from the US, Eric leverages his diverse expertise covering sports at all levels – from high sch...

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