proposal from California state Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) that would see California voters decide on legalizing sports betting on the November 2020 ballot cleared a key committee Tuesday.
The bill, which is supported by local governments and sports leagues, passed the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, and now moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Under the proposal, tribal casinos and the state’s major racetracks would be authorized to operate sports wagering at their facilities and via mobile devices, with strict third-party age and identity verification. The state would tax in-house wagers at 10%, and 15% for online and mobile bets.
“The legalization of sports wagering gives California an opportunity to provide much-needed revenue to our state during tough economic times,” Sen. Dodd said, as reported by GVWire. “Because sports betting will continue to occur regardless of its legality. A vote for my bill is a vote to regulate the industry, to protect consumers, and to ensure California gets its fair share. I’ll be working with stakeholders as we continue to refine and advance the measure through the legislative process.”
Sen. Bill Dodd (right) and Assemblymember Adam Gray are the bill sponsors.
Gray said: “Illegal sports wagering goes on every day unregulated and untaxed in California. Legalized sports wagering will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for vital services in our most vulnerable communities.”
Estimates put illegal sports wagering in the United States at $150 billion a year. The legislation would require safeguards to verify gamblers’ ages and identities, and technology would be used to make sure that mobile gambling devices are physically within California’s borders.
The proposal is controversial in part because of competition between gambling interests including card rooms, which offer table games like blackjack and poker, and would not be authorized to operate sports betting.
Experts say the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act would generate $500 million to $700 million in a mature market with at least $200 million expected in the first year. Revenue generated from legalization could support public education, infrastructure, and other needs when COVID-19 is shrinking revenues to state and local governments.
The constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Dodd and Assemblyman Gray would require statewide voter approval before sports wagering is allowed. Dodd and Gray hope to put the measure to voters on the November ballot. To reach the ballot, two-thirds of state lawmakers would have to approve it.