Los Angeles sports betting aficionados may not need to trek through the desert any longer to get their fix in Las Vegas.
MGM and GVC Interactive announced via a press release that it will be working hand-in-hand with a prominent Californian Native American Tribe.
An official deal, the first of its kind, between the gambling giant and the United Auburn Indian Community is expected to be tasked with developing and legalizing sports betting in the state.
Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling back in May in the case of Murphy vs. the NCAA, whether or not to allow sports betting is now a decision made at the state level. The SCOTUS ruled to overturn PASPA, a 1992 federal ban on sports betting and several states have already legalized it.
California still has a ways to go before seeing any sort of legislative progress with sports betting, but this agreement is a major step in that direction should state laws change.
Tribal Gambling Infrastructure Ripe for Sports Betting
Per the release United Auburn Indian Community Chairman Gene Whitehouse gave his thoughts on the issue.
”It is not yet clear if California will authorize sports betting or interactive games generally, but with the overturn of PASPA possibly opening the door for sports betting, our Tribe wants to be well-situated, and this agreement with the national leader in the field does just that.”
The UAIC operates the Thunder Valley Casino Resort near Sacramento and its expected that this will be an early main hub of state sports betting. The large 200,000 square-foot facility already offers standard casino fare including table games, digital games and slots.
It’s expected that the casino would provide a major boost to the Sacramento entertainment industry should sports betting be implemented there.
Agreement Just the Latest for Wheelin' and Dealin' MGM
Ever since the SCOTUS decision, MGM has been one of the corporate leaders in the legal sports betting movement.
It’s been a leader in New Jersey which has established itself already as the second biggest sports betting market outside of Nevada. The company developed online sports betting services and a mobile app in the state which would no doubt provide a model for its California venture.
MGM has shown interest in other states across the Midwest including Mississippi, which is already ready to offer sports betting this year, and Ohio which is still in the early stages.
The NBA agreement marked the first time a gambling operator officially affiliated with a sports league in the U.S., and MGM has even bigger plans for the Alliance of American Football set to debut in February 2019.
Sports betting will be a major element of the new football league’s infrastructure while the NFL has been much slower and less accepting of the practice.
Golden State a Gambling Leader Despite Ban
Despite California’s legislative initiative or lack thereof regarding sports betting, the state is home to one of the world’s largest gambling industries. Horse racing is a major part of the state’s history and the Golden State is additionally home to a host of major poker rooms and the largest lottery system in the country.
There are over 50 different Native American-operated gambling centers including the Thunder Valley Casino Resort and these generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue every single year.
All this in a state which constitution prohibits gambling.
And that includes sports betting.
The closest thing to momentum outside of this major MGM deal that can be observed in the state is petitions attempting to get sports betting on the ballot by 2020. That gives an idea of just how far a road there is to be traveled for sports betting aficionados in Cali to finally get their wish.
A fair amount of tension exists between the Native American casino industry in the state and state legislators due to exclusivity granted to the Tribes in compacts. For example, the tribes have been attempting to establish an online casino market, but legislators haven’t been willing to budge on the issue.
Despite the long road ahead, early signs say the Tribe and MGM could end up running one of the most impressive sports betting operations in the country.
The Tribe has the gaming infrastructure in place that many other states wish they had and thus would be adequately prepared to offer an extensive and robust sports betting industry.
Both in-person and mobile sports betting will be offered through the tribe, according to the press release. The UAIC stands to offer both in-person and mobile sports betting right off the bat and plans to offer online casino and poker games as well.
The agreement will also give the Tribe unprecedented access to MGM’s vast databases and network of partners including exclusive affiliations with the NBA which were secured in an earlier well-publicized deal this year.
The impact of this deal could be far-reaching, however, as it lets legislators know that in their absence, corporate and tribal interests are willing to step up and take the initiative to speed up the process.
They’ve made their desire known, and the potential is growing at any rate, and with California being one of the most influential states in the U.S. it would be a major plus for the national sports betting movement to gain traction within its borders.