California May Yet See Sports Betting Legislation in 2020/21

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  • California debates new sports betting
  • No actions until November 2020
  • Tribes are bound to fight back

California has proposed a new legislation to allow sports betting outside the remit of the state’s tribes. A vote will be held in November, 2020.

New Efforts to Legalize Sports Betting in California

California has become the latest state to open debates about the legalization of sports betting. Following up on last year’s PASPA ruling, state legislators proposed a ballot on Thursday, looking to create a legal framework for the Golden State.

Sen. Bill Dodd has helped pave the way for a referendum which would give state citizens an opportunity to decide the fate of sports betting in California. However, elections will have to wait until November, 2020 which gives a realistic time frame for yes and no campaigners to prepare adequately.

The bill was also backed by Assemblyman Adam Gray who joined Sen. Dodd in pitching the suggestion. This is similar to the support New York legislators threw for a local sports betting bill.

Native American Feuds and Legal Uncertainties

California is one of the states that has a large presence of Native American gambling properties, which has been a main drawback in any previous attempts to legalize the industry. So far, any effort to create a meaningful legal framework has been shot down by the tribes unequivocally.

Yet, Dodd’s plans seem to acknowledge this issue addressing future traction between tribes and private operators head on. In Dodd’s opinion the way to safely navigate out of an unpleasant situation is to create a wide consensus:

“I look forward to working with stakeholders in a collaborative effort to help bring this out of the shadows, By legalizing sports wagering, we can avoid some of the problems associated with an underground market, such as fraud and tax evasion, while investing in problem gambling education.”

These plans have been immediately met with the disapproval of the California Nations India Gaming Association. The trade group said that it would not sanction any form of gambling expansion, including sports betting. The Assn. quoted operators complicity with illegal betting and gambling practices as the main reason why:

“In short, 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,” Chairman of CNIGA, Steve Stallings said.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians have been more open to the idea of creating an inclusive climate that settles differences once and for all. The tribe called for broader practices that would help establish a dialogue between shareholders, private businesses and the tribes.

A Bill That Needs a Lot of Work

Even though this is a mild breakthrough in California, the realities are far harsher. Many bills in 2018 and even in 2019 have been shot down. Many and very detailed pieces of legislation have failed to garner support time and again.

In the case of the newly-proposed Californian bill, lawmakers have really just a few betting chips to begin with. Dodd has not fleshed out the law in great detail, leaving a lot of room for speculation. Even though the bill would supposedly help back areas of public interest, such as education, no further details have been revealed.

There have been those voices calling for a fully-legalized online gambling industry. One of them is International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada Associate Director Jennifer Roberts.

According to Roberts, California is a vast market of untapped gaming potential. She acknowledged that the current predicament that involved tribe’s monopoly on the sports betting industry would be difficult to resolve.

Not in the sense that the “monopoly” is bad, but rather the fact that the tribes have invested too much in their current infrastructure and any decision leading to the creation of a vast pool of competitors should be carefully examined.

Californians Already Gambling

Californians are already betting on sports betting whether lawmakers sanction it or not, noted Gray. The illegal sports betting industry is already worth $150 billion, money that could be otherwise handled by states, including California, with the tax revenue thereof going back to public causes.

The Pechanga Tribe’s Chairman, Mark Macarro has said that any attempt to legalize sports betting would shoot up the number of betting facilities around the state to at least 100, which, he reminded, was against what California’s current legal statures said.

He noted that The Pechanga Tribe would “vigorously oppose” any attempts to expand the clout of spots betting in the state.

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