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Why California Will Likely Be the Last State to the Sports Betting Party

October 1, 2019

With almost 40,000,000 residents, California is by far the most heavily populated state in the US. It is likely the most diversified as well.

As one state after another moves forward to legalize sports betting and online gambling provisions, one gets the sense that California will be the last state to the party. One would think that would be a problem among California residents as they watch their counterparts in other states get access to a complete gambit of gambling options. There doesn't seem to be much of an undercurrent of concern at this point.

It's also interesting to note that the debt levels in California are staggering. At approximately $20 billion, there's little doubt the state could use additional tax revenues to help combat the growing deficit. While the state keeps raising corporate and individual tax rates, why wouldn't they also want to draw revenues from another source? The answer to this questions and others might be a little surprising.

California Alliances Blocking the Introduction of Sports and Online

It's no small thing that California sits on the border of Nevada. For decades, Californians have been making the weekend trek to Las Vegas, Rena and Lake Tahoe to bet on sports, play casino games of chance and take in a couple of Vegas-style shows. The fact is a large portion of Nevada gambling revenues come from California gamblers.

That is not lost on Nevada casino operators. Over those many decades, Nevada casinos have been pouring billions of dollars from casino lobbyist into political campaigns to encourage California legislators to block other forms of gambling within the state. This very same relationship is still entrenched in the California political culture, and that's not likely to change any time soon. No one is implying corruption, but there is something that's keeping legislators on the sideline.

There's another aspect of this that's worthy of mention. California does have race tracks, a robust lottery and card casinos. The larger card casinos are actually owned and operated by the state's resident Indian tribes. These Indian tribes are deceptively powerful when it comes to gambling legislation. It's the prior agreements and another group of wealthy lobbyists that are helping keep any notion of sports and online gambling in check.

There will likely come a time when California residents tire of watching other states gather gambling tax revenues from Californians. When that time comes, pressure will be brought to bear on politicians to make a choice: loyalty to Californians or loyalty to the Indian and Nevada gambling lobbyists.


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