Professional sports in America are expected to return in July. However, sports betting in California might not happen for another three years as it will not be able to implement sports betting until 2023.

The state tried to legalize sports betting a myriad of times, and a bill was proposed this year to authorize gambling, but the bill was pulled just one day before a committee vote on the proposed legislation.

California Senator Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray proposed the bill to increase new revenue to limit cutbacks as California was facing a $54 billion budget deficit due to economic impacts from the coronavirus.

The bill had to go through the committee and be approved by both the state senate and assembly. Then it would advance to November’s ballot, where voters could amend the state’s constitution by approving sports betting online and even at state tribal casinos.

“Given the deadlines for getting a measure on the November ballot and the impact of COVID-19 on the public’s ability to weigh in, we were not able to get the bill across the finish line this year,” said Dodd.

It was opposed by Native American tribes in the state, who did not want any online betting, and they went against having card rooms in the state gaining the right to have banked card games like blackjack. The tribal leaders believed legalizing online sports betting would devastate tribal economies, and the bill proposed exaggerated economic benefits for California.

After The Bill

After the bill was pulled, many were left disappointed, yet expressed appreciation and voiced support. Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Association, appreciated Dodd and Gray’s effort to propose such legislation and said that he “will continue to support comprehensive proposals” that benefit the state. Many of the sports leagues and professional teams were all in favor of the proposal.

“California is in the midst of its greatest budget crisis in history, threatening classroom funding and the social safety net,” said a political consultant for the cardrooms, Steven Maviglio. “Yet, the will of a few rich tribes with Vegas-style casinos, that don’t pay taxes, have prevailed in preventing a desperately needed new source of revenue from flowing to the state.”

Maviglio added that the tribal initiative not to include online sports betting would bring less revenue and is concerned that the online black market will continue.

Before the bill was pulled due to tribal opposition, California almost passed the sports betting bill. Dodd pushed the bill through his Senate Governmental Organization Committee, and for the bill to pass, it required a majority of nine votes out of 16 members.

The bill failed 8-3, but Senator Steve Glazer switched his vote from neutral to allow the bill to make the vote 9-3.

If sports betting had been implemented in California, it would have imposed a tax of 10% on gross revenue from betting placed at tribal casinos and horse racetracks, and 15% from online betting. It would also bring in an estimated $500 million a year.

Since the US Supreme Court allowed states to approve sports betting in 2018, sports betting is legal in 17 states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana.