California sports betting bill could be delayed

  • California could have legal sports betting put to a vote on the November 2020 ballot if bill SCA-6 is made legal.
  • SCA-6 was set for a Suspense File hearing on Thursday that was canceled due to a number of last-minute amendments that needed to be made.
  • The next hearing is set for Tuesday, leaving two days for the California State Legislature to make a decision.
  • The state also can choose to extend the deadline for the bill, but the odds are not looking positive for this result.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.A Suspense File hearing for SCA-6 – a bill that would put legal sports betting to a vote in California on Thursday – was canceled by primary bill sponsor, Senator Bill Dodd, amid a number of amendments being made to his initial proposal.

There are two reasons behind the need for amendments and both have to do with current events in the Golden State.

Amendments that would appease the Tribes are being done so that California does not see any legal action to stop the legalization of sports betting as the Tribes have threatened to do this should legislation continue to move forward.

The second reason for amending SCA-6 is due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the financial hole it has put California in.

“You could kind of look at it as the COVID-19 Relief Act,” said Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) referring to the revenue a legal sports betting industry could bring to the state.

Amendments Being Made To SCA-6

California is seeing a deficit in its budget of $54 billion and in order to offset some of that damage, an amendment to SCA-6 would see licensing fees double from $5 million to $10 million.

This would allow for immediate funds to flow into the state with the start of their legalized sports betting market. But sportsbook operators will be rewarded with lowered annual renewal fees.

Originally, the fees were set at $1 million a year but will now be $500,000.

It is the hope that the higher initial costs will shave some of the weight off of the $54 billion in state debt.

This amendment could be categorized in the “COVID-19 Relief Act” that Dodd referred to a legalized sports betting industry in California.

Other amendments to SCA-6 would help with Tribal issues on the topic of legal state sportsbooks. Mobile and internet betting would no longer be immediately enacted if the bill were to become law and constituents voted in favor of it.

Instead, these sports betting platforms would be phased into the industry, having September 2023 as the date when sports bettors could sign up for sportsbooks and use them from anywhere.

In September of 2021, mobile sportsbooks would be allowed to use only on Tribal grounds. In September 2022, people could register to use mobile applications anywhere in California as long as they signed up for an account through in-person registration at a land-based establishment.

The phased plan is to help ensure that Tribes understand their businesses will not be hurt by allowing commercial operations to offer mobile sports betting.

Tribes also took issue with cardrooms and their table games using third-party proposition player services (TPPPS). The Tribal gaming community believes this to be unjust and non-compliant with their current gaming compacts.

The new amendment would make it so the entire way that cardrooms operate their table games changes and TPPPS is no longer used.

The final amendment for SCA-6 would be with the inclusion of state fairs.

California Fairs have been opposed to being part of the legal sports betting industry but lawmakers would still like to include them. To sweeten the deal, the amendment will allow 1% of the revenue from the wagering on sports to go to the Department of Food and Agriculture.

The Indian Gaming Revenue Sharing Trust Fund will also see 1% of revenue for themselves through sports betting profits.

All other revenue made by legal sports betting in California would go to the General Fund.

The wording in the original proposal had all money from the California Sports Wagering Fund to go to COVID-19 relief.

The General Fund can be put toward anything in the state that needs funding. At first, that can be COVID-19 relief but once that’s been dealt with, the new wording will allow for funds to be used toward any area of the state in need of finances.

The New Meeting

The next hearing for SCA-6 will be on Tuesday.

It will go before the Senate Chamber at 12:00 p.m. EST and discussions on the latest amendments will occur. Final decisions on SCA-6 were to be made by June 25, but that may no longer be in the cards with only two days after the next hearing to do so.

Legal sports betting in California could be put on the 2020 November ballot if the California State Legislature approves the bill quickly.

Should all go favorably, and voted on accordingly by residents, sports bettors in the Golden State will see a launch of the industry by the Fall of 2021.

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