Initiative Emerges in California to see Sports Betting Voted on by Residents

CaliforniaAn initiative was filed yesterday that would see voters have the chance to decide if the state of California should legalize sports betting.

Across the United States, legislation is popping up in many states to see sports betting legalized. In the past, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, limited wagering opportunities to a select few states, Nevada included. In May, the US Supreme Court ruled that PASPA is unconstitutional, opening the door to states to pass their own legislation and regulate the industry as they see fit. One state that may now be in the mix of those considering sports betting is California. Legislators have been unable to create a proposal where voters will decide to legalize the option, but an initiative filed yesterday could allow it.

Californians For Sports Betting

A group called Californians for Sports Betting has submitted paperwork for a petition to see voters able to choose if the state should offer the gambling option. Russell Lowery is a consultant for the group who presented the paperwork to the attorney general’s office. While the petition is a start, it would most likely not be on the ballot until 2020.

The constitution of the state prohibits the activity of sports betting from taking place. To change this, a majority of voters have to approve a change. Adam Gray, an Assembly member of the state, is pushing to see a measure created for voters to consider this November. However, such efforts have stalled in the past.

The state will need to be mindful of neighboring states as well as the nation as a whole. As more and more states in the US consider passing legislation involving sports betting, it would put California further behind when it comes to the industry.

Who Would Take Part?

The state will have to consider who will take part when creating legislation for sports betting. Native American tribes focus on offering gaming in the state via protection from the constitution. Each year, the tribes offering gambling services create close to $8 billion for the state. They will want to be involved or may feel that their exclusivity might be tested with legislation.

In May, the Chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, Steve Stallings, commented on the possibility by stating that expanding of the gaming industry is a ‘slippery slope’ and the tribes feel they have a sort of exclusivity in the industry and if the state or other interests violate the exclusivity, then the tribes will be concerned.

Other interests could be the card rooms operating in the state or horse race tracks. In the past, discussions of gaming expansion for the state, particularly online poker gaming, each of these groups were in disagreement as to how the industry should take shape. With sports betting, the same issues may occur, which would lead to even more time taken before any legislation involving the activity could move forward.

The Initiative Process

With this new initiative presented yesterday, the group behind the drive will need to obtain as much as $3 million to be able gather 500,000 to 600,000 valid signatures for the proposal to be placed on the ballot. Lowery feels that the effort will be a fight. It is sure to take some time and support for the initiative to gain any ground and be able to put the idea on the ballot in the future.