The California sports betting debate has become a polarizing issue. Several entities in the gaming world have already taken sides. However, there is one major player that is planning to stay natural: Caesars Entertainment.
This may come as a surprise because of how much Caesars Sportsbook could stand to benefit if sports wagering is made legal in California. With just shy of 40 million residents, California could support a sports betting market significantly larger than anywhere else in the country.
But, instead, the popular gambling operator is staying moot on Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 and focusing on expansion in states where sports betting is currently legal.
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Caesars to Remain Neutral in California Sports Betting Fight
On Tuesday, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg told investment analysts that the company was staying neutral on Prop 26 and Prop 27, the two sports betting initiatives to go before California voters in November.
Why? Reeg said the Caesars does not want to stand against its tribal partnerships. He cited Caesars’ decades-long relationship with several tribal nations as the operator of their casinos, including the Rincon Band of Luiseño Mission Indians and the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians in California.
“We don’t want to be in opposition to tribal interests when we’re their partner,” Reeg said during Caesars’ second-quarter earnings call. “So, we’ve remained neutral in California throughout. You should expect that to be the case in any state where tribes are at odds with the commercial interests.”
Most tribal casinos in California are backing Prop 26, which would allow tribal casinos and racetracks to offer retail sportsbooks. It also would allow the casinos to offer roulette and dice-based table games.
Meanwhile, Prop 27 is backed by several sports betting operators looking to legalize online wagering statewide. The measure would allow online gaming operators to partner with a California tribe to offer online sports betting. Eighty-five percent of the tax revenue generated from those transactions would be used for homelessness and mental health services in the state.
FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM are pushing for voters to say “Yes” to Prop 27. Those operators, along with Caesars Sportsbook, are generally considered to be the top four sports betting operators in the US.
The measures will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. Reeg did clarify that Caesars would be involved in California sports betting if either initiative or both pass.
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Caesars could expand its footprint in the US
Caesars Sportsbook is live in 24 states and jurisdictions, 18 of which have mobile sports betting. The company also operates the most retail sportsbooks across the country.
The operator recently announced the launch of the Caesars Racebook mobile app. The new product provides bettors with pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing events from more than 250 tracks worldwide.
Caesars Sportsbook has already established itself as a force in the sports betting world. More and more states are making event wagering legal, giving Caesars a clear path to expand even further.
The Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting in 2018. Since then, almost two dozen states have legalized it in some capacity. Could California be next? We’ll have to wait until November to find out.