Will California Sports Betting Attract Nevada Players? Analysts say don’t bet on it

California voters will wait 16 months before weighing in on a tribal-backed referendum that will ask them to legalize sports betting.

Whatever happens, it won’t change the opinion of game watchers.

While a few Nevada sportsbook operators fear potential competition from the largest food market in Las Vegas and Reno casinos, analysts and sports betting experts do not believe that sports betting in California – the main state Indian gambling – will settle in Nevada. multi-billion dollar business.

Nevada‘s sports betting industry is on the verge of surpassing its 2019 record totals.

“Las Vegas has something that will never go away. It’s a business model that’s impossible to compete with, ”said Sara Slane, Maryland-based sports betting consultant.

Chris Grove, analyst at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, said the state’s tourist economy has withstood decades of efforts to expand games across the United States.

“There is no reason California poses a threat to the Nevada sports betting market,” Grove said. “California car traffic to Vegas remains robust despite the widespread availability of various types of gambling within state lines.”

Doug Kezirian of ESPN, host of Daily bet, which is filmed inside the network’s studios in Las Vegas overlooking the Strip at the Linq, believes “more legalization is better for Vegas.” Other than major events like the Super Bowl and March Madness, “people don’t come to Vegas just to bet on sports. They come for all the bells and all the whistles.

Even if California voters approve the change to the state’s constitution, the first bets could not be placed until 2023 at the earliest. Golden State lawmakers and gambling authorities are also expected to approve regulations and procedures.

The California Secretary of State called the petition a statewide voting initiative last month after tribes handed over more than a million valid signatures. The effort began in late 2019, and the 18-member tribal coalition sponsoring the referendum planned to put the measure on the November 2020 ballot. However, the pandemic has delayed the process.

In addition to large and small tribal casinos statewide, sports betting would be permitted at four private racetracks: Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area and Santa Anita, as well as Los Alamitos and Del Mar in Southern California. California card room casinos, which offer table games but no slot machines, are excluded from the deal.

The referendum calls for a 10% tax on sports betting income to fund public safety, mental health programs, education and regulatory costs.

Two elements of the referendum are reasons analysts believe Nevada would be immune to California competition: the initiative does not allow mobile sports betting and prohibits betting on games involving teams in colleges and colleges. universities of California.

Kezirian was concerned that the California college ban “sends the wrong message: that college sports are corruptible.” It is a bad outlook.

Tribal chiefs said the ban would end betting by underage players. The absence of a mobile would also increase the number of visitors to casinos, a major concern among the coalition’s small tribal casinos.

“This is an important step in giving Californians the opportunity to participate in sports betting while establishing guarantees and protections against underage gambling,” said Mark Macarro, president of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians of Southern California. , in a press release.

Nevada is still # 1

In the three years since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to legalize sports betting, activity has been active in 21 states and Washington DC. Nine other states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico have legalized sports betting, but have yet to launch. Four other states – Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine – are considering legalization.

The speed of progress in more than half of the United States has amazed sports betting observers.

“Who knows what will happen between now and the referendum finally comes to the polls in California?” Slane said.

Nevada maintained its presence at the top of the standings. Since 2018, 10 states have cashed more than $ 1 billion in sports betting through April. Nevada leads with more than $ 15.1 billion in wagers, followed by heavily populated New Jersey with $ 14.9 million.

In 2019, Nevada sportsbook took in $ 5.319 billion in bets, an all-time high for the 10th consecutive year. Revenue from these bets totaled $ 329.1 million, which was also a single-year record.

The pandemic caused the first annual decline in sport in more than a decade.

However, according to the Gaming Control Board, the state is back on track to set another record. As of April, sports betting has cashed nearly $ 2.3 billion in bets, an increase of 22.4% from 2019. Revenue of $ 150.8 million in those four months represents an increase of 44% compared to 2019.

Nevada silence

Nevada sports betting operators declined to comment on the California initiative. But at least three casino operators in Las Vegas and Reno could have a stake in the expansion.

Caesars operates Harrah’s Southern California near San Diego for the Rincon Band of the Luiseño Indians, as well as Harrah’s Northern California near Sacramento for the Buena Vista Rancheria Band of the Me-Wuk Indians.

The company also spent nearly $ 4 billion this year to acquire UK betting giant William Hill, which included the company’s US operations in 18 states. Caesars has also recently become one of the three official sports betting partners of the National Football League.

Boyd Gaming Corp. and Red Rock Resorts are in the process of developing tribal-owned casinos.

Boyd broke new ground with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe in March on a $ 500 million casino complex in Elk Grove, 15 miles from downtown Sacramento. The property is slated to open in 2022. Boyd’s sports betting outside of Nevada is operated through his 5% stake in FanDuel and includes operations in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Mississippi (all of which are part of the three main operators generating revenues in each state).

Red Rock is moving forward with a $ 350- $ 400 million casino complex near Fresno for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. The company hopes to innovate on the casino this summer.

Bussmann said there is healthy potential for collaborations and cross-marketing opportunities in California.

“Each Las Vegas and national operator will have their eye on a partnership, if not multiple partnerships, in this approach to land-based sports betting,” he said.

Will California be golden?

California is viewed by analysts as a potential sports betting juggernaut.

It is the most populous state in the country and is home to more than a dozen teams in the four major professional sports leagues. Almost 70 Indian casinos generated around $ 8 billion in annual gaming revenue by 2020, or roughly a quarter of all Indian gaming revenue in the United States.

Analysts believe the addition of California to the list of legal sports betting states will put a damper on the illegal offshore sports betting industry, which is easily accessible online.

Brendan Bussmann, partner of Global Market Advisors, said “all roads” to the expansion of legal sports betting in California must go through the tribes.

“Sports betting in California has the potential to capture a large untapped market that is now ruled by illegal books and hold on to those dollars through a tribal approach,” Bussmann said. “Californians will finally have a say in the expansion of gambling in the state.”

“An opportunity, not a threat”

Nevada gaming regulators have reported a steady year-over-year increase in sports betting placed through mobile devices. Grove and other analysts have said the lack of mobile sports betting in California is helping Nevada sports betting. He suggested, however, that Nevada could further improve its position by adding an element of remote registration to mobile sports betting regulations.

“Assuming Nevada adjusts its approach to mobile sports betting to enable a smoother customer experience and Vegas casinos continue to invest in creating world-class sports betting, expanding legal sports betting into California and across the United States should represent an opportunity, not a threat to Las Vegas casinos, ”Grove said.

Nevada will get its first real test of competition from a neighboring state this fall when Arizona launches sports betting at tribal casinos and sports stadiums.

Caesars Entertainment has struck a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks to place a bookie at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. DraftKings and the PGA Tour will create a bookmaker on the TPC Scottsdale golf course.

“I don’t think sports betting in Arizona will have an effect in Nevada,” Slane said.


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