Major League Baseball announced its support for a bill that would legalize online sports betting such as OKBet Sports betting in California on Friday, making it the first major sports league to weigh in on the high-stakes battle between bookmakers and the state’s powerful tribal gaming operators.
There are two major sports betting initiatives on the November ballot. Proposition 26 would limit in-person betting to tribal casinos and four horse racing tracks. Proposition 27 would legalize sports betting online.
Proposition 27, the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act, is supported by Major League Baseball. It has the support of a group of sportsbook operators, including OKBet Sports Betting. A portion of the proceeds from Proposition 27 would go toward combating California’s homeless crisis.
MLB’s official betting partners include OKBet Sports Betting. MLB, which has five franchises in California, has been a proponent of sports betting legalization since the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 in 2018.
“As legalized sports betting spreads across the country, Major League Baseball remains committed to protecting the integrity of its games and providing a safe experience for fans who wish to wager on those games,”
MLB said in a statement issued Friday. “Proposition 27 – the only measure on the upcoming California ballot that would authorize and regulate online sports betting – includes strong integrity provisions designed to assist MLB in meeting those commitments.”
“For example, the bill would (1) require online sports book operators to notify leagues of suspicious wagering activity, (2) allow leagues to propose restrictions on betting markets that are especially vulnerable to manipulation, and (3) facilitate other forms of integrity-related cooperation between the state, leagues, and operators.”
MLB believes that Prop 27 contains the safeguards necessary to establish a safe and responsible online sports betting market in California – a state where millions of MLB fans are looking for alternatives to illegal offshore betting sites.”
A coalition of tribes, led by Pechanga, has endorsed Proposition 26, the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gaming Enforcement Act.
“A large and growing coalition of Indian Tribes, social justice advocates, teachers, parents, homeless and mental health advocates, business, public safety, and labor leaders all strongly oppose Prop 27,” said Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Yes on 26 and No on 27 campaigns. “
The bill would legalize massive expansion of online gambling, turning every cell phone, laptop, gaming console, and tablet into a gambling device.” Worse, there is no foolproof way to prevent children from gambling online. Prop 27 is written in such a way that the out-of-state gambling corporations that fund it take 90% of the profits out of state, leaving little for California.
We are confident that voters will reject this deceptive and dangerous legislation in November.”
Chris Gove, a sports betting investor and partner at consulting firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, believes a mature online sports betting market in California could generate up to $3 billion in annual revenue.
In comparison, according to the industry trade publication VIXIO Gambling Compliance, retail-only sports betting will generate $356 million in annual gross revenue by the fifth year.