Voters Could Decide The Fate Of California Sports Betting

Posted on July 8, 2019

Along with several other national and state matters, voters in the Golden State may be deciding the fate of California sports betting in November 2020.

The process of amending the state’s constitution to allow California citizens to legally wager on sports began on June 27. California Assemblyman Adam Gray and state Sen. Bill Dodd introduced the amendment concurrently in their respective chambers.

While the amendment is in its earliest stages, it looks promising for one of the biggest sports markets in the country.

California sports betting amendment details

ACA 16 would empower the state’s Legislature to regulate sports betting. If the amendment passes, the California Legislature would have the power to decide all aspects of legal sports betting within the state.

The amendment doesn’t modify the existing constitution any further. It’s necessary, however, because currently, the body doesn’t have the power to legalize sports betting.

The legislature would determine details like who can operate sportsbooks and the tax rate in future legislation should this amendment pass.

Amending California’s constitution

There is a higher bar to amend the state constitution as compared to passing bills. Both the Assembly and Senate must pass identical versions of the amendment by a 2/3 margin.

That approval merely puts the matter on a ballot, however. Voters in the state then have to also approve the amendment by a simple majority.

The earliest that the amendment could be on the ballot would be November 2020.

If approved by the voters, it would likely take several more months for the Legislature to enact a bill. Then more time for sportsbooks to actually begin operations.

While California residents are probably looking at mid or late 2021 as a target date, the process has officially begun.

What happens to the amendment now?

The Assembly Governmental Organization Committee and the Senate Governmental Organization Committee will take action on the matter soon.

The first step is informational hearings. No hearings on the amendment are scheduled yet. At least one hearing in each committee will likely be open to the public.

During committee hearings, members will hear from potential stakeholders in the state.

California sports betting: Who might be in?

While it’s currently difficult to accurately analyze the particulars of legal sports betting in California, t

Card rooms, casinos, online sportsbook operators, racetracks, and sporting facilities will all likely want in on sports betting. While the legislature can technically greenlight all of these things, history suggests there will be quite a bit of in-fighting over such a lucrative turf.

Hypothetically, California residents could legally place wagers online using platforms like DraftKings Sportsbook or casino applications.

California residents could also place wagers at places like the Los Angeles Rams’ new stadium in Inglewood while attending games.

The potential new revenue also brings new competition. Tensions between the state’s casinos run by Native American tribes and card rooms may rise. That’s already been seen in proposed changes to card game rules. Just imagine what happens when the potential sports betting revenue is dangled in front of operators.

All these scenarios rely upon this amendment. While it’s going to be over a year before that could potentially be decided, there is finally a glimmer of hope California sports betting could happen.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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