California Sports Betting Bill Faces Opposition from Tribal Groups

Two lawmakers in California have introduced legislation that would bring sports betting to one of America’s largest states.

Assemblyman Adam Gray and Senator Bill Dodd have written ACA 16, legislation that would bring wagering to California.

The bill is in response to a failed effort by Californians For Sports Betting, a group that attempted to get a measure on the ballot for voter approval in 2020.

The group never attempted to get the necessary 623,000 signatures via petition that would get the bill to voters, but not all hope is lost to get a measure on the ballot.

Gray and Dodd’s bill will need two-thirds approval in both houses before it could be placed on a November 2020 ballot for voters to decide.

What is the Benefit of Bringing Sports Betting to California?

According to a recent study, the firm of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates the state could reap a taxable revenue base of over $2 billion per year if mobile gaming is included in a bill.

When taking into account what is currently happening in New Jersey, where the state topped Nevada for the first time in total monthly revenue, California has to be intrigued by the idea of legalization.

Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, believes California would benefit greatly from sports betting.

“California would be a premium market for sports betting given its population and sports teams’ presence,” Roberts told Forbes Magazine.

What are the Main Obstacles for Sports Betting in California?

Sports betting in California is a complicated issue because the state has already implemented a series of difficult wagering laws that are far too open for clarification.

As it stands, betting in the state is run by private investors and tribal groups, with both parties using the laws as nothing more than guidelines without serious oversight.

Although the tribal groups are in charge of California’s gaming industry, other groups have created private poker rooms and card houses to go along with casino games.

Currently, the state has over 60 tribal casinos inside the boundaries and the tribal leaders that run these casinos are not enthusiastically supporting the proposed sports betting measure.

Tribal groups have already sued the state due to the operation of the card rooms that are allegedly working outside the letter of the law.

The card rooms stay legal because they are backed by player money and not the financial support of a “house” or central operator, so they stay within the law.

The lawsuits and rancor between the two sides have caused other gambling bills, such as a proposal to legalize online poker in the state, to fail.

When the sports betting proposal was announced, the chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, said that legislators “should proceed with caution.”

“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,” said Steve Stallings.

“A legitimate discussion on sports betting could then proceed as long as tribal exclusivity is maintained.”

If the dispute between the tribal and private groups continue, Californians can expect sports betting to fail in the similar demise of online poker.