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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

What to know before betting on the Super Bowl

You may be wondering what is legal gambling in California?

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Get your footballs out and favorite snacks ready, it’s Super Bowl time! Besides, the food and commercials, a lot of fans look forward to betting on the game. California, like most in the U.S., does not allow sports betting within the state

You may be wondering what is legal gambling in California? You can bet at casinos, cardrooms, the horse track, or play the lottery. Charitable gaming is also legal, such as ‘bingo night’ for a non-profit. 

When it comes to those popular Super Bowl squares, the answer isn’t so simple. According to California penal code 337(a), it is a crime to accept or make a bet on a sports event. We asked Professor of Law & Attorney, I. Nelson Rose, recognized as one of the leading experts on gaming laws, for clarification on this. 

“There is no exception for social betting, as there is with home poker games.  On the other hand, I know of only one case where prosecutors went after a mere bettor, and it was because they thought he was a bookie,” Rose said. 

If you do place some bets at a virtual Super Bowl party, it’s not like the cops will come banging at the door. 

“The only time law enforcement gets interested is if it looks like organized crime is involved or there is a large-scale scam.  But they do make mistakes: having lots and lots of cash can look like drugs,” Rose said. 

We also spoke with gambling expert Eric Mitchell on whether games like Super Bowl squares are harmless. 

“Yes, it is because you’re doing it at a private party. You’re not advertising it. You’re bringing it in. It’s done amongst friends. I was going to say we’re all together, but it’s Covid, so we’re doing it remote. It's still legal because you’re keeping it within a small group of people, not expanding it all over the world,” Mitchell said. 

Each year hundreds of thousands of Californians bet on the Super Bowl using fantasy sports betting sites and apps like FanDuel or DraftKings. 

Gaming attorneys say there is no clear answer as to whether daily fantasy sports are legal to play in California. 

“Fantasy sports operators claim they are exempt from California’s anti-sports betting laws because they are contests of skill.  There is no statute, court case or Attorney General Opinion on that.  And the federal government recently said that for tax purposes, season-long fantasy sports are contests of skill, but daily fantasy sports is sports betting.  Again, there is no definitive answer.  If fantasy sports is sports betting, it would be technically illegal for Californians to play.  But realistically the chances of a bettor getting in trouble is about the same as winning the World Series of Poker,” Rose said. 

Growing in popularity each Super Bowl is the prop bets.  Those are the fun, sometimes downright bizarre bets. 

“People will bet on anything, the length of the national anthem. Obviously, we now know whose going to be singing it. Simple bets, coin tosses, first score, first pass, amount of yards on the first carry. There are people who drop crazy money. You see these bets coming down at $10,000 a quarter. Even on props. I’ve seen $20,000 laid down on coin tosses,” Mitchell said. 

So, what else can people bet on?  It depends on the casino, sports book, or betting site you’re using.  They each have their own prop bets, and own odds.  Some of the prop bets this Super Bowl include: 

  • Which word will the announcers say first, Covid or Pandemic? 
  • How many times will Tom Brady’s wife “Gisele” be mentioned 
  • Which song will the Weeknd open with during the half time show? 
  • Will President Biden or former President Trump be mentioned? 
  • Will a player propose to his girlfriend on the field? 
  • Will the announcers say the word “boom” 

One of sin city’s most famous gamblers, “Vegas Dave” Oancea, spoke to News 8 on the growing popularity of these prop bets. 

“I think prop bets are the biggest sucker bets out there. It’s fun for entertainment, but if you’re trying to win money, you better bet on the side or the total, and try to make money that way. Find a person you love on a team, and bet that prop bet for that person to just crush it, because if he crushes it, you can win 5, 10, 20 times your money,” Vegas Dave suggested. 

You can even bet on the color of the Gatorade that the winning coach will be doused with. Right now the color with the best odds is orange. 

CBS Sports is even giving you a chance to win big during the game with its $1,000,000 Prop Bets Contest here

If you think you have a gambling problem, you are not alone.  The California Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG) says “there is help, there is hope, and there is a way to have a normal life again.” CCPG estimates 1.2 Million Californians have a gambling problem. Another 8.4 Million are impacted by problem gamblers. You can call 1-800-GAMBLER for help, or visit the CCPG site here.