Sports Betting Legislation Introduced In California

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Lawmakers Introduce Constitutional Amendment, Which If Passed, Would Give Voters Final Say In November 2020

 
Lawmakers in California introduced legislation that could bring legalized sports betting to the Golden State after the 2020 election cycle.

ACA 16 was introduced last week by Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray, which is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow a regulated sports betting market in the state. In order to get the issue on the ballot next year, the bill needs to capture a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the legislature.

Once on the ballot, a simple majority vote from the citizens would make it law of the land.

California has made efforts in the past to expand its legal gambling market but failed. With so many different special interest groups that want a piece of the pie, the government couldn’t agree on a model.

One of their most recent failed gambling expansions came from their effort to legalize online poker. Commercial card rooms and tribal card rooms butted heads and nothing was passed. Forbes is reporting that there will be similar clashes with the sports betting effort.

Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nationals Indian Gaming Association, told Forbes that the tribes will not support any expansion until the government cracks down on commercial rooms running illegal games. Even then, he wants the tribes to be the only sports betting operators in the state.

“In short, the CNIGA does not support any expansion of gaming in California, including sports betting, until the for-profit commercial card rooms stop their illegal practices, including constitutionally prohibited banked games,” said Stallings. “A legitimate discussion on sports betting could then proceed as long as tribal exclusivity is maintained.”

The bill is a longshot to garner the support needed to get it on the ballot in 2020, but if it does, the state government would get a much-needed influx of cash.

The Eilers & Krejcik Gaming research team estimates that the state could bring in $2.1 billion in tax revenue from a fully developed sports betting market, thanks to the state’s massive population and multiple sports franchises.

New Jersey, a state with less than a quarter of California’s population, pulled in $127 million in tax revenue in its first year of operation. Bettors in the Garden State combined to wager more than $3 billion in that time frame.

“California would be a premium market for sports betting given its population and sports teams presence,” said Jennifer Roberts, associate director for the International Center for Gaming Regulation at University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Over the coming months, there will be several public hearings on the topic before the lawmakers vote on the measure.

Gray introduced similar legislature in 2018, but it was squashed early in the legislative process.

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