2019 was a year that saw the scope of legalized and regulated gambling (primarily sports betting and online gaming) introduced and/or expanded upon in many parts of the United States. Thanks to an increasingly warming attitude towards gambling across the whole of the US and the need for state governments to create more tax revenue, there is a perfect storm brewing for gamblers of all types.
One of the most noteworthy pushes for expanded gambling will take place in California, where state lawmakers have already begun working towards getting a bill in place for November’s elections, more than 10 months away. Just today for example, a preliminary hearing was held so that senators and members of the state assembly can voice their opinions, concerns, and other thoughts about the prospect of legalized sports betting in California. Democratic Senator Bill Dodd and Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray are the two lawmakers working most fervently to get a passable bill on the upcoming ballot.
California Is Not Alone
Even though California might be the most prominent state flirting with the idea of legal sports betting, they are not alone. In upwards of ten more states are expected to make a push towards legalized sports betting in 2020. 20 states have currently legalized sports betting in some capacity, and if you think that the idea of 10 more following suit in 2020 is crazy, you should think again. According to Fox Business, gamblers across the regulated betting markets of the United States wagered nearly $2 billion this past November alone. A state like California, with its nearly 40 million strong population, will look at that number and undoubtedly want a piece of the action.
In California, the two aforementioned lawmakers are attempting to draft legalization that will allow for sports betting at physical locations (such as casinos) as well as online. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are just two of the states that allow for online and mobile sports wagering, and with the added flexibility comes with it a lot more gamblers and, thus, a lot more tax funds for the states. If California chooses to copy NJ or PA, the apps used by bettors will be tracked by GPS to ensure that wagers are placed only within state lines.
Opposition from Native Tribes
As you might expect, the Native Tribes that own and operate a majority of California’s land-based casinos want to get their share of the sports betting action. A total of 18 different tribes have backed a legalization effort of their own, but one that does not include any sort of mobile sports betting. In fact, their hope is to squash the idea of mobile betting before it even gets off the ground.
The situation in California (and other states) is still very much in the early stages and quite fluid, so it is tough to say anything with a high degree of certainty. If all goes according to the plan of Senator Dodds and Assemblyman Gray, a bill will need to be drafted, 2/3s of the House and Senate must approve it, and then it will be added to the November ballot where it will need to be approved by a majority of voters.