• No regulatory framework exists under the measure, just the permission to discuss and renegotiate the tribal compact.
  • Legislators want sports betting in a variety of gambling establishments while the tribes want it exclusively.
  • The tribal casinos also want to see card rooms banned from offering player-banked casino-style gaming first.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – “The Legislature by statute may authorize and provide for the regulation of sports wagering.”

Those fourteen words are filed under California Bill ACA 16 and begin another attempt by California legislators to introduce legal sports betting to the state.

Filed by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D- Merced) and co-authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D- Napa), this constitutional amendment would permit legislators to regulate the sports wagering industry and potentially renegotiate the tribal compact as it stands.

The measure would also make it to the 2020 November ballot for voter approval, should both chambers approve it by a two-thirds vote.

Lawmakers attempted this plan last year however, the bill never moved past the committee stage. This year, Gray has spoken with many professional sports organizations within the state and feels the nationwide trend of legalization needing to come west.

“I know there’s significant interest throughout the California sports economy,” said Gray.

Gambling is a major hot topic in California as the tribal casinos are adamant that new wagering styles break the rules of the current compacts. They have even warned the state saying that the legislature should “proceed with caution”.

According to Steve Stalling, Chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, the possibility to even begin discussion sports betting expansion can occur after “commercial card rooms stop their illegal practices.”

Stallings also called for the exclusivity to remain the same, indicating sports betting might only be found on tribal grounds and not the horse racings tracks and card rooms.

In a mature market, land-based and online California sports betting is projected to create as much as $2.1 billion in revenue, according to Eilers & Krejcik.

“My hope would be that we can find a landing spot for sports wagering, where it could enhance all of those institutions,” said Gray.

Both Gray and Dodd chair their chamber’s Governmental Organization Committee. It will be their responsibility to reach a verdict on this measure, as they will undergo public hearings throughout the year hearing testimony from all sides.

“I look forward to working with stakeholders in a collaborative effort to help bring this out of the shadows,” Dodd said.

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