Legal Sports Betting in California More Complicated Than Ever

A general view of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images/AFP

With more and more states launching and moving towards legalization, it’s hard to ignore the fact that California is nowhere close to any of that. The financial power in the Golden State would change the landscape of legal sports betting in the United States. That is why the latest lawsuit brought on by two California card rooms over a sports betting ballot initiative is so discouraging.

California Card Rooms Suing Secretary of State

Two California card rooms are claiming that a tribal-backed sports ballot initiative violates the state constitution. The cardrooms argue that the initiative contradicts a mandate in the constitution which states that ballot measures must be limited to a single subject. The ballot initiative in question is backed by several California tribes. They are urging the court to take action before September which is when ballot printing happens in California.

The main sticking point for the card rooms is that the ballot initiative has too many subjects that are unrelated. For example, the inclusion of roulette and other dice games, as well as private litigation, are direct violations of the constitution. To say the legal sports betting situation in California is confusing would be the understatement of the century. None of the entities needed to make legalization happen to get along which is the root of the problem.

The amount of litigation between the card rooms and the tribes in California has been so frequent and so contentious that it’s hard to imagine how they will ever get this situation fixed. The tribes famously sued the state of California which went all the way to the Supreme Court. That litigation was over their relationship with the cardrooms which the tribes feel operate illegally. So to see the cardrooms suing the tribes is hardly surprising to anyone.

California’s Market Potential Being Wasted

We all know how much money is in California and the appetite for sports is there to go with it. Whether you’re talking pro sports or collegiate, the potential of a California sports betting market is virtually limitless. The problem is unless the tribes and the cardrooms can somehow come to some kind of understanding, California is nowhere close to legalization let alone launching legal sports betting.

Four ballot measures that seek to legalize sports betting have been submitted to the state of California to this point. Obviously, both the cardrooms and tribes have backed these ballot measures in one way or another along with various interest groups.

So far though, only one of them has qualified for the ballot. This initiative is backed by the Barona, Yocha Dehe, Pechanga, and Agua Calientes tribes. Of course, this is the same initiative that the card rooms are currently trying to stop. It seems like this never-ending fight is coming at the expense of sports betting fans in the state of California.

Players in California and across the country that don’t yet have access to legalized sports betting via mobile can go to OddsTrader once this changes. OddsTrader currently offers betting odds comparison in Illinois, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, and West Virginia. is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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