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California Sees Fights In Effort to Legalize Sports Betting

Sports betting legislation has been a big topic of discussion in California over the last few weeks, but it appears that the conversation has come to an end. Tribal casinos have been fighting against any new legislation, and their opposition has forced lawmakers to pull the plug on the bill.

Senator Bill Dodd was the man responsible for the sports betting bill, and he confirmed the news on Monday. Bill SCA6 would have legalized sports betting throughout the state, but tribal casinos did not want to risk losing out on any business.

SCA6 was given new life during the coronavirus pandemic as the state was looking for new ways to bring in revenue. Dodd received plenty of support from other lawmakers with his plan, and the bill was quickly advancing through the Senate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee was set to meet and discuss the bill on Tuesday, but now that will not take place. Dodd has expressed that he will look to pursue sports betting again in 2022, and it’s likely that California will be ready to legalize the industry at that time.

Why the Tribal Opposition?

Dodd’s bill, SCA6, allowed for sports betting to take place at the casinos and race tracks throughout the state, and tribal nations would have been able to apply for a license. The bill did not give card rooms the ability to apply for a license, and that was in an effort to keep the tribes happy.

The opposition came from the fact that mobile and online wagering was included as part of the bill, and the tribes were afraid that they would be losing out on revenue. Tribal leaders immediately started opposing the deal when it was first announced, and they never backed down.

SCA6 was recently amended to alter the way online betting would take place in the state, but it still wasn’t enough for tribal leaders. The new amendments would have kept the state from going to a fully online format until 2023.

Tribal nations in California have also been trying to get their own bill passed, and it was looking like a referendum was headed for the ballot in November. The pandemic kept the group from collecting enough required signatures to get the referendum on the ballot.

Process Could Take Years

Since legalizing sports betting in the state of California requires an amendment to the state Constitution, the discussion has now been tabled until 2022. Next year is not an election year, and the lawmakers cannot launch the industry without approval from voters in the state.

Even if a referendum is placed on the ballot in 2022, sports betting likely won’t be launched until at least September 2023. California is one of the biggest states in the US, and several prominent professional sports franchises would help to drive the industry.

Lawmakers and tribal leaders will likely spend the next two years battling over sports betting discussion, and it’s unclear if things will be any different when lawmakers try again in 2022.

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