California Shows Interest in Sports Betting

by Kyle Miller

CaliforniaCalifornia joins other states in fight for sports betting legalization.

For several years now, the state of New Jersey has been fighting for the ability to offer sports betting within their borders. The state passed a bill a few years ago in an attempt to circumvent federal law in order to offer sports betting to gamblers. Their case has made it to the United States Supreme Court with the highest court set to review the case in the near future. In that time, several other states have either taken steps to join New Jersey in the fight or made preparations for if/when sports betting restrictions are lifted in the United States. The latest to join the fight is California.

New Amendment in California

On Thursday, a constitutional amendment was proposed within the state assembly by Assembly member Adam Gray. The amendment would only be valid if federal law that governs sports betting in the United States were to change. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act from 1992 essentially blocks all states from offering sports betting except for four where the activity was grandfathered in. Nevada is included in the four states that can provide sports betting and the only one that offers a multitude of options.

In a statement on the matter, Gray said that residents of the state are already wagering on sports though illegal means in foreign countries. Gray says it is now time to bring the multi-billion dollar industry from the shadows, crack down on illegal and unregulated online gaming and replace it with an option that is safe and responsible. This would include providing safeguards for underage gambling, compulsive gambling, fraud and money laundering. Gray stated that since other gaming activities are subject to regulations in the state to ensure the safety of consumers sports wagering should be also.

What Has to Happen?

ACA 18 is the new amendment to the state constitution that must receive at least 2/3 of the majority vote within legislature in order to then be brought forth for a resident vote. So, a two part action must be taken. First, Gray will have to get enough backing to see the measure passed then hope that enough residents are on board to see the amendment added to the constitution.

In the past, gambling related issues have not fared well when considering the decisions made by lawmakers. The change may not be able to gain enough momentum in order to pass on to the state residents vote.

California has failed in the past when trying to make changes to the gambling industry. Daily fantasy sports legislation has been unable to move forward along with online poker legislation. It seems the state discusses options for a very long time then a decision cannot be made as to how such changes should be presented to the gambling industry.

Right now, a great deal is riding on the Supreme Court’s decision in the New Jersey sports betting case. If California is able to see this proposal come to pass, it will make a handful of states that are ready to begin offering sports betting activities if the Supreme Court rules that states have the ability to pass legislation in order to do so. All eyes will be on the decision once the court begins hearing the case.

We shall have to wait and see how this proposal progresses in California and keep a close eye on what the Supreme Court decides should happen in regards to sports betting in the state. Will New Jersey finally win their case and be able to enter the sports betting industry? Or will the court rule to keep the PAPSA the same and only the previously selected states have the right to offer sports wagers?