California lawmakers proposed a ballot measure on Thursday to legalize sports betting in the state. The bill, known as ACA 16, would give California voters a chance to change the state constitution as soon as November 2020 to allow for sports betting.
Why Haven’t We Heard Much From California About Sports Betting?
In case you were wondering why there hasn’t been much action in California to legalize sports betting, the answer is quite simple. The state’s Native American tribes don’t want it. The tribes in California have a lot of political power and are against the expansion of gambling in the state. They believe they have exclusivity in the state for most forms of gambling and are not interested in any sort of expansion that could compromise that.
When the chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association heard of the proposal, he responded by saying that lawmakers should “proceed with caution”. The tribes have said they would be open to the idea of legal sports betting, but only if they have the exclusive right to it. That may cause problems with the state’s card rooms and racetracks who will be looking to get a piece of the action.
The CNIGA Chairman Steve Stallings had this to say about the idea of legalized sports betting in the state:
“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. A legitimate discussion on sports betting could then proceed as long as tribal exclusivity is maintained.”
What Does ACA 16 Entail?
The bill was proposed by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). There isn’t much to the bill just yet. There is no actual framework in place or allocation of tax revenue. As of now, the bill is more of a stepping stone to get the legal sports betting ball rolling. The bill also neglects to define how sports betting would be allowed, whether brick-and-mortar only or via online.
Despite a lack of details, Dodd is excited about this bill and he understands the issues in front of him. “I look forward to working with stakeholders in a collaborative effort to help bring this (sports betting) out of the shadows,” said Dodd.
Should California Be Optimistic?
While it can never be a bad thing that a sports betting bill is introduced, in terms of legalizing sports betting, but that doesn’t always mean good news either. California has one of the toughest roads to legalize sports betting of any state. Constitutional amendment aside, the tribes are too powerful of an obstacle to just avoid or go through. They need to reach a compromise and it appears the tribes are unwilling to budge unless of course they get handed a “monopoly” by being the only ones allowed to offer sports betting.
Even if California does bend to the tribes and gives them what they want, they are going to get pushback from the state’s other gambling facilities. Regardless of what happens, there are going to be plenty of unhappy people in California. That being said, the market potential is too big to neglect. California could generate $2.1 billion in annual taxable revenue via legal sports betting, according to research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. All things considered, California residents don’t appear close to being able to place legal sports bets in their home state anytime soon. Even with a best-case scenario, sports betting is still over two years from coming to The Golden State.