California lawmakers introduced new legislation on Thursday that would allow voters the opportunity to legalize sports betting as soon as November 2020.
The bill, ACA 16, which is a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution, was introduced by state Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). In its current form, the bill lacks specific details about how sports betting would be regulated, where it would be allowed in the state and how tax revenues would be spent.
The proposal is reportedly just one part of a complex push for legalizing sports betting that will be followed by a series of joint informational hearings within the state’s legislative bodies.
This new bill comes after a previous effort brought forth by the Californians For Sports Betting group failed to garner the 623,000 signatures required to earn legalized sports betting a spot on the upcoming 2020 ballot.
Essentially, the new bill has the same goal that the petition did except that instead of being a public signature push, the bill would instead require two-thirds vote in the state legislature to get legalized sports betting on the ballot.
Legal sports betting has the potential to create a huge economic windfall for the state.
California is the most populous state in the country and is a hotbed for tremendously popular collegiate and professional sports teams. For these reasons, many any believe legalized sports betting would do big business in the state, especially once the market fully matures.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA), a federal law which restricted state-sponsored sports betting outside of Nevada.
But once PAPSA was overturned, New Jersey led the charge on implementing a robust legalized sports betting scene, something a handful of other states have also moved forward with and accomplished in one way or another.
Last month, American sports betting history was made when New Jersey bookmakers took in more money from bettors than did those in Nevada for the very first time ever in the U.S., and it came after less than a full year after legal sports betting began in the state.
Additionally, state tax revenue for New Jersey has greatly increased since it entered the sports betting landscape, and most project that number could continue to rise.
Proponents of California’s efforts to do the same have a similar goal for their state. In fact, a research firm recently reported that a fully mature California sports betting market could generate as much a $2.1 billion in taxable revenue annually.
With those kinds of numbers on the table, it’s easy to see why efforts to legalize sports betting in California continue to take place despite ongoing adversity from opponents.
Still, California is a long way off from capitalizing on last year’s change in federal law.
The main issue comes down to opposition from California Native American tribes, who have collectively opened more than 50 casinos across the state since constitutional amendments passed in 2000 effectively gave those groups exclusivity agreements that prohibited outside commercial facilities from doing the same.
These tribal groups are powerful figures in the state and have opposed all forms of legislation that would lead to new gambling enterprises entering state lines.
For any new measure to pass, there will have to be serious dialogues between state lawmakers and Native American tribes who believe the existing laws already give them exclusive gaming compacts with the state, which includes sports betting.