California Dream Could Become Reality For Sportsbooks in 2020 Ballot Push

California, long viewed as one of the holy grails of the legal sports wagering industry, could turn operators’ and gamblers’ dreams into reality if a plan to legitimize the activity in the Golden State makes it onto the 2020 ballot.

A bill proposed by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) appears to be gaining momentum after the two politicians penned an amendment to the state constitution that would legalize sports betting in the Golden State.

Sen. Dodd and Asm. Gray have until June 2020 to get that amendment out of the state senate and to the assembly floor where two-thirds of members would have to vote in favor of it so the proposal could be put to voters on the November 2020 ballot. Democrats in California enjoy super majorities in both houses of the legislature, meaning bills they pass are essentially immune to veto by Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat.

We want to get an initiative on the ballot that the voters can understand, that’s easy to understand and perhaps in the process maybe bring all the gambling institutions — card rooms, horse racing, tribal casinos — all together,” said Dodd in an interview with KTXL.

Newsom’s signature isn’t required for the sports betting proposal to be placed on the 2020 ballot.

Lots Of Moving Parts

California, the state isn’t one of the 13 currently allowing sports wagering and it’s not among those, such as Montana and New Hampshire, that are close to launching it.

Tribal operators, which run nearly 70 Golden State casinos, previously opposed the expansion of non-tribal gaming in the state, which has been a hurdle to getting sports gambling off the ground there. Then there is the tribes’ long-running spat with California’s 66 cardrooms.

Cardrooms, including those in Los Angeles operated by Larry Flynt, are expected to want a slice of California’s sports gambling pie, potentially putting those businesses at odds with tribal gaming entities. Politicians view cardroom operators, the tribes, racetracks and professional sports teams as the stakeholders in the Golden State sports betting debate.

California is home to 16 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises.

Logistical Issues

Dodd and Gray haven’t mentioned online and mobile betting, which would need to be part of the California sports wagering lexicon at some point for multiple. First, it is expected that over the next 10 years, online and mobile apps will account for 90 percent of all sports bets placed in the US.

Second, there’s geography. Some California cardrooms are located in or around major cities, but most aren’t. The same is true of most of the state’s largest tribal casinos. For example, Pechanga and Morongo are each nearly three- hour drives from downtown Los Angeles.

There’s some talk of placing sportsbooks at California sports arenas, an idea the Sacramento Kings are tinkering with at Golden 1 Center, offering a predictive game where players use credits for the chance to win prizes.

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