Voters in California might not get the option to vote to legalize California sports betting.

  • Legal sports betting in California could happen if ACA-16 passes through the Legislature and landed on the ballot for the public to vote on in November.
  • The sports betting market is a billion-dollar industry in the Golden State but the recent COVID-19 pandemic could stop legislation from moving forward as the Legislature has been shut down.

LOS ANGELES – Will Golden State residents be able to vote on the issue of legalizing California sports betting come November? Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) has been advocating to make sports betting a legal activity in the Golden State for quite some time.

Online and retail gambling on sporting events would become a legal reality for the people of California under legislation that was drawn up by Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced).

Legal Sports Betting In California

While the idea of allowing voters to decide the fate of whether sports betting will become a pastime that residents of the Golden State could participate in locally sounds easy enough, it would still need to pass by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before it could see the ballot in November.

Allowing sports betting in the state would require an amendment to the Constitution which is what the voters would essentially be voting to do. Although there are many people in favor of legalization, the legislature has not yet been sold on the idea thus far.

Constitutional amendments are usually an uphill battle among various states.

California Assembly Amendment ACA-16 was originally introduced on June 27, 2019. It did not move further than that. Dodd and Gray are going to try again in the 2020 session to get their bill through the Legislature and onto the ballot for Californians in November 2020.

It is the hope of the bill sponsors, as well as those from the California Gaming Association to see sports betting become a legalized market statewide. Sports bettors from the Golden State wager billions of dollars on sporting events annually according to the American Gaming Association. That’s all money that could be going toward the state’s economy. Estimates show that the market could make $2.2 billion in revenue annually if it were to become legal.

With the bill moving nowhere in 2019, it may prove to be a difficult task to get it moving along this year as the California Legislature has shut down for the first time in 158 years until at least mid-April due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Once they decide to reconvene, the discussions on ACA-16 can begin.

A lot needs to happen to see a California sports betting bill on the ballot in 2020, but that may not occur in time.

The only other option would be if the state’s tribes were able to get enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. But, the same concerns of public safety due to COVID-19 might hinder them from getting to their required amount of signatures before the deadline next month.

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