Florida, Texas, and California are three of the most successful sports team states in the US. They have competed in more than half of the championship series in the four major professional sports and have reached the finals of the NBA every time. These three states comprise 27% of all franchises in the sports leagues. However, even after PASPA is out and these three states continue dominating the American sporting scene, it doesn’t seem likely that they will legalize sports betting.
The American Gaming Association’s Sara Slane notes that the three states are the brass rings, considering their opportunity and populations (together they account for over 25% of the US population). But sports betting may not be a reality here. The Associated Press suggests that the states have made no legislative efforts towards betting.
The reasons for the lukewarm response to the sports betting opportunity vary. In Florida and California, there are powerful tribal interests that do not want to share their existing gambling market with other players. The tribes run casinos, and they do not want race tracks and card rooms to compete with. In Texas, a morally and socially conservative approach means that legalization of sports betting will be a difficult path to tread.
In all the three states, the government will have to get a statewide affirmative vote to change their constitution, which will be a huge legislative hurdle. Chris Grove, the managing director of Eilers and Krejcik, a gambling research firm, said that larger states have bigger markets and bigger opportunities. However, the stakeholder environment and political stasis will be equally complex.
Currently, sports gambling is legal in eight states. Nevada was the only state before 2018 that enjoyed sports betting operations. New York, Arkansas, District of Columbia and other states have also come forth to share the fruits of sports betting legalization. 22 other states are considering bills that will help in legalizing sports betting.
A positive decision in California alone will create a huge impact in the industry since it is home to one-eighth of the US populations and has 17 teams in four major professional leagues. Gambling activities there are controlled by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association who are opposed to the expansion of gambling in the state. Interestingly, the United Auburn Indian Community has already struck a deal with casino company MGM and online gambling firm GVC to run a sportsbook at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort near Sacramento.