What are the pros and cons of allowing sports betting in California?

By Cody Beckett

As most people around Santa Barbara know, sports betting in California is not currently legal. Although playing Daily Fantasy Sports games and betting on horse racing is legal, all other kinds of sports wagering are still not permitted. This is something of a surprise when you consider not only the size of California but also how sports crazy lots of people here are. In addition, the state has some of the best pro sports teams around for residents to place wagers on.

All this naturally has led to many around Cali pushing for the state to legalize sports betting. But could sports betting in California become more open in the future and what impact could this have in places like Santa Barbara?

Could sports betting in California open up in future?

It is always hard to predict for sure what could happen in the future – but the signs do look promising. Plans for a public vote on legalizing sports betting have already been spoken about and there seems to be real political will for creating a sports betting market within California’s borders. All this means we could see legal betting on sports in Santa Barbara and around the rest of the state soon. Although it might have taken a bit longer than most thought after the US Supreme Court’s 2018 decision on sports betting, it may now be on the horizon.

But what might the pros and cons of opening up this market in California be?

Pros of opening up betting on sports in California

The first major benefit would simply be giving Californians the chance to take part in an activity they find fun and offer them something new to stay entertained with. With so many sports fans around the state, this would be something many would welcome.

In addition, legalizing sports betting would enable people in California to enjoy this activity in complete safety. As any launch would require sportsbooks and apps to be regulated, it would help to keep players secure as they gambled. Making sports betting in California legal would also help it keep up with other states in the US. With more and more states choosing to head this route, California might fear being left behind or seen as old-fashioned. Choosing to follow other states lead would also help California remain competitive in the tourism sector and not lose out to other states who do offer legal betting on sports.

Jobs and revenue also big pluses for legal sports betting

In addition to the above, you also have to look at the positive impact it could have on the jobs market locally. A legalized sports betting sector could bring a range of new jobs with it, including those from sports betting companies who might base themselves within state borders.

Of course, the last really big advantage that sports betting could bring to the state is a major injection of cash to public coffers. Just as high gas taxes in California are applied to the fuel we buy, sports betting companies would be taxed at certain levels to operate within state borders. When you consider that New Jersey saw a $1.35bn sports handle figure in January 2022 alone, you can see how appealing this is.

What are the cons with legal sports betting in California?

As with anything in life, it is key to look at the full picture and consider all sides of the situation. This means you do have to consider any potential downsides to opening up sports betting to Californians. Perhaps the biggest fear is those within the state may become hooked on sports betting and the negative effect that this could have on their lives. If responsible gambling practices are enforced though, this should be preventable.

Many people might also fear that falling in line with other states to legalize betting in sports could make California less unique. Although it could be seen as a downside, being somewhere you can get away from sports betting might turn out to be something of a unique selling point for those who value this. When you talk about future tourism numbers, legalizing sports betting could cause California to lose this unique selling point and its chance to carve out a distinct niche in the travel market.

Sports betting in California

As the above shows, there are both pros and cons to opening up sports betting within the state. Although you do have to guard against any potential dangers a legalized market might bring, the number of positives it could deliver seem to outweigh them. While we do not know for sure what will happen in the future, it does seem California is starting to move towards a time when betting on sports will be legal.


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