When voters officially make their California sports betting decision during this coming November's election, it won't just be The Golden State bracing for the implications. Other places in the United States without legal sports betting will be waiting for the results with equally bated breath. And this rings especially true in Florida and Texas.
Why is that, you ask? Well, the fact of the matter is the legal sports betting in California issue will be a referendum on many levels. Voters are not just choosing whether to approve sports betting, but how they will approve it if they do.
California is set to have two different sports betting initiatives on the 2022 November ballot. There is Proposition 26, which would allow only in-person gambling at casinos and continues to be supported by California tribes who oppose legal online sports betting. And then there is Proposition 27, which calls for legal sports betting both in-person and online while allowing for larger operators outside the state to set up shop inside California.
Both Florida and Texas are facing similar battles. The difference is, they've yet to bring either matter to their voters. And given their similarities in market size and appeal, the California sports betting decision stands to serve as a precursor for what happens in The Sunshine and The Lonestar states in the years to come.
How California Sports Betting Decision May Impact Texas
New York was seen as the first major-major-major market to take on all forms of sports betting when they introduced it. Many thought that would be enough to create urgency among the other large-market holdouts like Florida, Texas and California. But it wasn't. Florida repealed their own limiting form of sports betting and Texas has so far refused to do more than passively allow Daily Fantasy Sports within the state.
Anyone expecting Texas' stance on sports betting to soften in time for the 2022 November elections was sorely mistaken. They rejected the latest attempt to put a sports betting initiative on the ballot. Many think it's because there isn't enough pressure on them to join the fracas. Indeed, plenty of neighboring states have approved sports gambling. But Florida's walk-back coupled with California's logistical hurdles emboldened sports betting opponents in Texas to maintain their (frankly outmoded) position.
This gets a lot harder to do next time around, in approximately 2024, if California approves either of the propositions on the table. If they allow any form of sports betting into the state, Texas officially becomes the largest and most popular market not to have done the game. That all but guarantees they'll be under intense pressure to shift their sports betting laws—particularly when many high-level officials inside the state are already calling for reform in the first place.
How California Sports Betting Decision Impacts Florida
The impact this November's California sports betting decision might have on Florida is more specialized than it is with Texas. Florida technically already had legal sports betting at select casinos and only in-person, but a judge later ruled the Seminole Tribe's gaming compact with the state created an unconstitutional monopoly and repealed it altogether.
As a result, the future of sports betting in Florida somewhat hangs in the balance. It could take years before all the necessary litigation has been resolved. Inevitably, though, the expectation is that Florida sports bettingwill at least be restored to its previous form, in which wagers could only be placed at casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe.
If the retail sportsbooks, among other tribes, are going to change Florida's initial policy, they could use a leg up from California. For example, if the next California sports betting decision favors Prop 27, which includes in-person and online betting, those opposing the Seminole Tribe's brick-and-mortar exclusivity will be able to point toward no fewer than two major markets (New York and Cali) that have approved across-the-board sports betting.
On the flip side, if California passes only Prop 26—or doesn't vote in favor of either initiative on the ballot—it will be easier for the Seminole Tribe to come up with precedents for other big-market states with limited or no legal sports betting.
Expectations for Legal Gambling in California
Everything presented here comes with a caveat: For California to have a huge impact on the future of sports betting in Texas and Florida, the state's voters first need to approve Prop 26 or Prop 27. And it isn't yet known which initiative is favored by the general population.
With that said, numerous polls over the past year have found that a majority of California residents support sports betting in some form. It stands to reason, then, that at least one or both of these sports betting bills will receive majority support. And that result will no doubt shape the ongoing debate and litigation currently and still slated to take place in both Texas and Florida.
All of this probably comes as little comfort for anyone ready to bet on sports now. We get that. And whether you live in California, Florida, Texas or somewhere else, we've got your back. Our reviews of the top online sportsbooks include a hefty handful of reputable sites prepared to accept bets from anywhere in the United States.
And aside from leaving your home state to place bets elsewhere, this is the best alternative we can offer until a California sports betting decision—and its trickle-down effects—becomes a reality.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so that you can decide which one works for all of your sports betting needs: