You can bet 49ers win Super Bowl LVIII, or what color Gatorade douses coach — but not in California (2024)

Wagers are piling up ahead of Super Bowl LVIII’s epic rematch of the San Francisco 49ers and reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, to be played — fittingly — in Las Vegas on Sunday. You can bet the farm on everything from who wins the game to the color of Gatorade dousing the winning coach.

But while Bay Area fans of the Red and Gold are being bombarded with pitches from major sportsbooks online and on TV, they won’t actually be able to get in on the action unless they hop a flight to Sin City or motor over the border to Nevada or another nearby state.

“There’s no legal sports betting in California yet, no authorized state-regulated way to just bet on San Francisco to win the game,” said Geoff Zochodne, an analyst for sports betting information hub Covers.

A number of states — including California’s nearest neighbors, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon — have allowed commercial sports gambling since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way in a 2018 decision. But with the notable exception of horse racing and fantasy sports, California remains among a dozen or so states that outlaw commercial sports betting, even at tribal casinos. And that’s not likely to change soon.

Gaming interests spent heavily on a pair of competing 2022 initiatives to allow sports betting either online or on-location at tribal casinos, and voters rejected both by large margins.

Late last year, a small group of entrepreneurs proposed a pair of initiatives aimed at the 2024 ballot that would legalize sports betting through California’s tribal casinos. But the state’s gaming tribes weren’t consulted and weren’t on board. Though the state says the proposed initiatives remain clear to begin signature-gathering,proponents have stopped responding to questions about them and the gaming tribes say they’ve been withdrawn.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be other efforts in the near future — California remains the biggest potential prize in the U.S. sports betting market — but legal sportsbooks in California remain years away.

“It’s too big of a market and there’s too much revenue and profit for people to not find some way to get it off the ground,” said Robert Linnehan, sports betting regulation expert and editor of Sports Betting Dime. “Tribes have said 2026 is another year they’d be interested in taking a look at it.”

For now, California tribes are closely watching how a legal battle plays out in Florida, where an effort to legalize sports betting through the Seminole tribe in 2021 is being challenged in court.

But 49ers fans who want to throw money at the game shouldn’t feel too left out. Missouri, home of the Chiefs, also banssports betting. New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania remain the top U.S. sports-betting states.

That this year’s Super Bowl is being played in Las Vegas wasn’t lost on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who warned league players and staff this week that “betting on NFL games or inside information or anything that would negatively impact the integrity of our game is absolutely off limits.”

Dr. Timothy Fong, an addiction psychiatrist and co-director of the University of California-Los Angeles Gambling Studies Program, said it’s hard to tell whether the growing presence of sports betting is spurring gambling addiction. A 2007 study indicated about 1% of people in California suffer from it. But he said even though California outlaws sports betting, its nearly overtaken slot machines as the state’s main avenue to addiction.

“Every year the Super Bowl does a lot to bring out those addictions,” Fong said.

So what are the options for Niners fans who feel lucky enough to bet what will be Grammy-winning halftime headliner Usher’s last song? For those who stay in California, there are unregulated offshore sportsbooks online, but the experts say beware.

“Nobody’s going to be knocking down your door if you bet $20 on an unregulated sports book,” Linnehan said. “But basically you have no consumer protection. Consumers are pretty much on their own giving their personal information and banking numbers to these books. If you get your identity stolen, who are you going to complain to?”

For those willing to travel, online sportsbooks operated by the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Fanatics and Caesars are available in many neighboring states. Those who set up accounts outside of California cannot place bets while they’re in the state, but can do so as soon as they cross the border.

Industry insiders like Raphael Esparza, global oddsmaker from Doc’s Sports Service, say there’s been intense interest in Super Bowl LVIII, with two teams closely matched and engaging “storylines.”

Will the 49ers avenge their loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV? Can Kansas City pull off back-to-back Super Bowl wins, something that’s only happened eight times? How will the Niners’ Mr. Irrelevant quarterback Brock Purdy stack up against the dynamic KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes? The sizzling romance between KC tight end Travis Kelce and pop phenom Taylor Swift — will she and Mahomes’ wife Brittany wear the same thing?

“It would not shock me if it breaks records for the most-bet Super Bowl,” Esparza said.

Fox Sports reported someone in Michigan bet $1 million on the Red and Gold, for which a win would net $833,333.

There also are myriad proposition or “prop” bets on just about anything imaginable. Fox Sports reported somebody in Michigan bet $100,000 on the pregame coin flip being tails, for which a win would net $95,238. And don’t forget the Swift factor — what she’ll wear, whether she’ll be shown on TV during the halftime show or mentioned in the postgame Most Valuable Player speech.

Esparza is betting the Grammy-winner will be driving more money into the sportsbooks. Why?

“There are more Swifties,” he said of Taylor’s devotees, “than 49ers fans.”

The California Department of Public Health advises that if you or someone you love is affected by gambling disorder, there is no-cost, confidential help available by phone at1-800-GAMBLER, by texting SUPPORT to 53342 and online at

You can bet 49ers win Super Bowl LVIII, or what color Gatorade douses coach — but not in California (2024)
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