Can California Rival Nevada’s Sports Betting Dominance?

Illegal Sports Book Operation Sinks San Diego's Last Card Room

With the legalization of sports betting on the Horizon for California in 2022, many have begged the question as to whether it will draw customers away from Nevada casinos. 

Many Southern Californians make the daily trip to Nevada to place their bets, as well as to partake in the overall Nevada gambling experience. Despite some concerns from Nevada sports book operators that legalization in California could provide some competition, analysts say otherwise.

What the Experts Say

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

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming analyst Chris Grove said, “There’s no reason why California has to represent a threat to Nevada’s sports betting market […] California drive-in traffic to Vegas remains robust despite the widespread availability of various types of gambling within the state’s borders.”

This may be the case for now, but once California gets into the groove with sports betting, its likely this could change. After all, California’s sportsbooks will be newer and offer a new and, hopefully, improved betting experience.

Doug Kezirian, the host of Daily Wager, said “more legalization is better for Vegas, people don’t come to Vegas just to bet on sports. They come for all the bells and whistles.”

The question regarding legalization in California, which has been a gateway to Nevada, is its effect on Nevada sports betting handle. Why would someone drive an extra 30 minutes to an hour to place a bet when they could do it at a casino much closer to them? While the Vegas bells and whistles are fun, many sports bettors are not going to Nevada for that purpose.

California as a Fierce Competitor

The size of the Californian sports betting market seems to be overlooked. While the experts’ sentiments regarding Nevada make sense, they may not last long term. Even if sports betting is legalized through a vote in 2022, the first bet won’t be placed until 2023. 

But even then, California is America’s most populous state and has more than a dozen teams in the four major professional sports leagues. Almost 70 Indian casinos produced $8 billion in annual gaming revenues prior to 2020, all non-inclusive of sports betting. 

So while people will still flock to Nevada in the near term, those who are used to doing so from California may stop once California’s sportsbooks open up. Many of the Nevada sportsbooks have been around for quite some time, with some operating with outdated technology.

California’s sportsbooks will likely be built for the modern age and modern sports fan, something that in the long run could present some challenges to Nevada Casinos.

Author: Erika Simmmons