With a gaping deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a pair of lawmakers in California has decided to propose sports betting legislation to help offset up to $700 million of the $54 billion the state now needs.
California’s Sports Betting Again in the Public Eye
California wants to see sports betting come to the rescue of embattled state finances, or so two CA lawmakers argue. State Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa and Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced are now pushing for a constitutional amendment that would allow state residents to vote during the November elections to see the state create horse racetracks and casino games similar to those run in Las Vegan.
The bill wants American Indian tribes in the state to extend their offer to both retail as well as mobile sports betting. While the two lawmakers may have caught some of the regulatory fever around the country, the issue proves contentious as it pits the gambling interests of many entities in California, including poker and blackjack card rooms as well as the state’s tribes.
While the lawmakers argue that their proposal would help tribal casinos to keep expanding their product, specifically with the addition of craps and roulette, the California Nations Indian Gaming has cautioned that card rooms may get an edge over them in those specific verticals.
Tribal Casinos Not Convinced Sports Betting Would Benefit the State
Tribal casinos have argued that putting these games into a law would allow rivals to expand their offer more aggressively than any tribal casino could, presenting new market difficulties. Association chairman James Siva argued that by the time these measures are introduced, the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak would most likely have been resolved.
California is looking to catch up to the 18 states that have already have sports betting in place and the other four that are in the process of introducing it. The state would make a fine addition to the sports betting landscape, but one unlikely to be sucked in too easily mostly because of legislative objections.
Yet, California has a massive population and has 16 teams in the major professional sports leagues in the United States, which gives the state an immense potential to stand out. Based on the proposal introduced by the lawmakers, the state would impose a 10% on gross gaming revenue (GGR) and a 15% on all mobile betting.
The lawmakers expect to see a windfall amounting to $700 million within a few years, which will contribute some to the $54 billion budget deficit that has been caused by the pandemic. Dodd argued that while the numbers may not seem too big, they would be helpful, and besides, California would now be able to regulate a practice that is going to take place anyway, whether that is within the state borders or offshore.