California Inches Closer to Legalized Sports Betting

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George Rose/Getty Images. Pictured: The dome and exterior of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, California.

Jun 03, 2020, 12:43 PM EDT

California has taken another step toward fixing its colossal budget deficit.

The California Senate Governmental Organization Committee voted to pass a bill that would legalize sports betting as a constitutional amendment on to the Senate Appropriation Committee. A hearing is scheduled for June 9.

Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray, the duo who introduced the bill, played a key role in securing a 9-3 vote from Democrats on the committee.

The amendment could go a long way in helping the Golden State escape its estimated $54-billion-dollar hole in the budget.

If sports betting were to receive the green light in the state, it could make around $282 million in the first six months and $502 million in state taxes once the market grows, according to the Sacramento Bee and Eilers and Krejcik Gaming.

Dodd said he believes legalizing sports betting would bring the act into the light, allowing the state to capitalize financially on something that will likely take place regardless of its legality. Residents of California place at least an estimated $10 billion in illegal bets each year, according to Courthouse News.

The bill would allow online sports betting and in-person betting to take place at tribal casinos and racetracks.

Despite the steps it has taken so far, there’s no guarantee that legalized betting makes its way to the biggest West Coast state in 2020.

For a constitutional amendment to find the ballot, it must receive a two-thirds vote from the legislature before racking up a majority vote during the statewide elections in November.

Tribes also played an adversarial role to the bill, believing cardrooms don’t deserve the increased gaming rights the bill would give them.

If sports betting does make it through, though, it could thrive in a state like California.

Not only does California boast 15 professional sports teams across the four biggest leagues in America, but it houses the nation’s largest state population at almost 40 million.

New Jersey, which boasts a population of about 8.8 million, has generated $62 million in tax revenue for the state over the last two years.

With non-sanctioned betting already taking place in the sports-crazed state, legalized sports betting could create one of the most successful markets since the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018.

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