Sports betting is coming to California...maybe?
Pack your bags, grab your boards, bring your big-boy liver...us Phoenicians may have another reason to cross the border into Cali. Legal sports betting is on its way! Well maybe. In over a year from now.
Since sports betting was legalized by the US Supreme Court back in May 2018, California has been relatively quiet as far as efforts to bring it to their the state. Our most populated state just made some waves. Two lawmakers introduced bills in the California House and Senate that would put sports betting on the ballot for voters to decide...in 2020.
Ok, so there are a few things to overcome first. Well actually, there are more than just a few.
Once on the ballot it needs to pass by a majority vote in November 2020. This will be during what is shaping up to be a very competitive and highly-contested election. We don't see a reason why this wouldn't pass, but you never know. The question is, will it make it to the ballot.
California has tried to get this done before and failed. With the new bills, they need a 2/3 majority vote across the whole legislature. So, there is that. Then, they need to get the tribes on board. Tribes have been opposed to gambling expansion in California. Before they are ready to talk sports betting, the tribes want to lock down a few things. First, they want to close down current non-tribal gambling operating in the state. Next, they want further assurances of exclusivity. In a statement from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA):
"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."
The tribes have strong lobbying power which could affect getting the 2/3 vote. They could also shut things down through lawsuits. California is going to want them to play ball.
So, not impossible, but definitely not an easy path to legalization there. Here in Arizona, we have similar issues to address before sports betting comes to our state. It will be a race to see who's first. Although legalization in either state is a "win" in our books, our money is on the home team.
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