Online Gambling California – Will It Be Legal?

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While the legality of online gambling remains a grey area in many places around the world, no one can dispute the efforts the industry has made over the past two decades. The market is projected to reach $87.75 billion by 2024, and with the trend of expanding legalization around the globe, it’s poised to reach new heights year after year.

By all accounts, the rise of new technology has proven to be a gamechanger for the sphere. The age of the smartphone, bundled in with blockchain, and the potentials that virtual and augmented reality provide, are enticing young people to partake in the activity. And, as a byproduct has removed the stigma associated with it.

Because of ever-growing demand, governments from all around are feeling pressure to legalize playing online casino games and sports betting. California is no exception.

The most populated state in the US has traditionally been conservative when it comes to gambling. However, since the US Supreme Court invalidated the federal ban of sports betting in 2018, and Pennsylvania got online casinos up and running, many residents are hopeful that this wave of gambling legalization will engulf the Golden State, as well.

Sports Betting Is Leading the Way

It’s estimated the bets placed on sporting events on the black market brings in roughly $150 billion per year. Research also shows that young people are more interested in betting on sports games than going to land-based casinos.

Sports media companies have picked up on this, and they’re betting big on gambling content, by offering it on all their platforms. A trend started by Turner Sports, one that was soon replicated by Fox Sports and ESPN. Multiple daily shows that cover gambling-related topics are now the norm.

Eighteen states have already legalized the activity, and almost all others are pushing towards it. Utah being the single holdout. However, just because betting on sports is legal in a state, that doesn’t mean that so is the ability to place bets online. Real Money online casinos are still outside of the legalization talk.

Current State and Recent Developments

For the longest time, poker has been at the heart of California’s gambling industry. Cardrooms are licensed by the state and bring in millions in revenues every year. Other forms of gambling are limited to bingo, scratch cards, the state lottery, pari-mutuel betting on horse-racing, and casinos operated by federally recognized tribes.

Toward the end of 2019, assemblyman Adam Gray and senator Bill Dodd made moves toward legalization by seeking support for their bills that would make the activity legal by the end of 2020. Gray came forward with bill ACA16, while Dodd introduced matching legislation, SCA6, in the Senate.

Gray is known to the public for his many efforts in legalizing sports betting in the state. In 2016, he introduced sports gambling legislation titled CA AB 1573. In 2017, he came back with ACA 18, a bill intended to amend the California constitution.

As of today, no action has been taken regarding either of these bills. And, in November of last year, eighteen of the state’s tribes banded to file a petition to get sports betting on the November 2020 ballot. Their agenda is to make sportsbooks legal, but only in tribal casinos.

Pros and Cons of  Legalization

Economic growth is the major factor when it comes to the positive aspects of making any type of gambling legal. It provides people with jobs, opportunities, and the state gets their share through taxes. Thus, improving roads, education, and healthcare. It also allows for accurate statistical data regarding the activity. This can provide insight into all benefits and drawbacks.

The main issue is that gambling is no doubt detrimental to people’s health. Most gamblers are impulsive and have caused themselves and their families great emotional and financial strain by indulging in it. Many debate if it is ethical to provide people with tools that might make their lives worse?

Outlook on the Legalization of Online Gambling

Going by the last available information, the California tribes had received enough signatures to qualify their petition for the ballot. However, currently, all efforts remain in limbo. ACA16 and SCA6 included.

Many are hopeful, that since other states like New Jersey have greatly profited by the legalization of sports betting, and especially online casinos, that California would follow suit. Especially given the population of the state and the potential tax revenues. Sadly, there seems to be little political interest in bringing digital gambling platforms to California.

Nevertheless, no law in California prohibits, regulates, or bans online gambling. While it might be illegal to own and operate an online gambling business in the state, if you’re of legal age, and pay your taxes, nothing is stopping you from placing bets on off-shore sites.