Webis Holdings-owned advance deposit wagering subsidiary WatchandWager has renewed its license to offer horse racing in California.
The two year renewal issued by California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) runs from next year to 2022, and allows WatchandWager to continue to accept online pari-mutuel wagers from residents of California.
The operator said the renewal would mean it has continued access to the largest US state population, while also leaving it well-placed to expand into sports betting should regulation pass.
Webis also holds a long-term lease at the Cal Expo racetrack, meaning it offers land-based wagering on racing alongside its online presence.
In addition to California, WatchandWager has also renewed, or is in the process of renewing, licenses in Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota and Washington.
“We are pleased to receive this key license renewal from the California Horse Racing Board for WatchandWager,” WatchandWager president Ed Comins said. “We believe that the tax, revenue, and jobs generated from this license will have an important benefit to the state of California, especially in light of the economic difficulties caused by the California wildfires and the Covid-19 virus.”
“With this important license and our physical presence at Cal Expo in Sacramento, we believe that the passage of legalized sports betting will result in even more new jobs, duties, and tax revenue to the state,” Comins continued. “WatchandWager stands ready to be an active partner in supporting not only the state’s racing and gaming industry, but also supporting the recovery of the state as a whole.”
In 2019, WatchandWager agreed an extension of its agreement with the board of directors of the California Exposition & State Fair in Sacramento, allowing it to continue its Cal Expo harness racing operations through to May 1, 2025. The extension also included a clause that would allow the lease to be extended until 2030 with both parties’ agreement.
While efforts to pass sports betting legislation in California – via a ballot measure – came to nothing, the state’s Native American tribes aim to put it on the ballot in 2022.
Late last year, a coalition of 18 tribes introduced a proposal for legalised sports betting in the state in 2019, titled the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act.
This would allow racetracks to offer in-person wagering alongside tribal casinos.
In July, the tribes were given 90 more days to gather enough signatures to get the proposal on the ballot in 2022, after a court granted an extension to the deadline by which it must secure sufficient public support.