California lawmaker looks to legalize sports betting. Nearly $5 billion in bets were made on this year’s Super Bowl, and roughly 97 percent gambled through illegal venues, the American Gaming Association said.
California is looking to capitalize on those numbers as the fight to make sports betting legal comes to a he
California lawmaker looks to legalize sports betting
California is looking to capitalize on those numbers as the fight to make sports betting legal comes to a head.
“The choice is not, should we have sports wagering or not have sports wagering. We do have sports wagering,” California State Assemblyman Adam Gray said.
It’s estimated that between $150 billion and $400 billion in illegal “black market” sports betting goes on in the United States — $20 billion to $40 billion of that is in California.
That means by regulating the industry, the tax revenue for the state could be a game changer.
Gray has introduced a constitutional amendment to capitalize on that by making sports betting legal in the Golden State.
“You could see tax revenue as high as a $100 million or $200 million a year to the state general fund if we authorize sports wagering,” Gray said.
Much of that revenue would be earmarked for schools and education, he said.
But all of this happening hinges on what’s brewing across the country, where the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a case involving the constitutionality of the federal law that prohibits state governments from authorizing sports wagering.
New Jersey sued the federal government, claiming the law is unconstitutional because it dictates the extent to which states must maintain their prohibitions on sports wagering. The state also claims it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment because it’s not applied equally across all states since sports wagering is legal in four states.
It appears that a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court justices agree, according to legal experts, and will make a ruling this summer. If the ruling comes down that way, California would be able to move forward on legal sports betting.
“Many people are on online sites now, but their money is not protected,” Gray said. “There’s no regulation, or accountability for those companies, so this will kind of bring it out of the shadows and have a legal regulated marketplace.
Critics said legalizing sports gambling would open up a string of problems including addiction.
Dr. Amy Ahlfeld, who treats problem gamblers, said making sports gambling legal will make it harder for those in recovery.
“More money is going to also need to go to treatment and what does it mean for the people who can’t control themselves and can’t do it recreationally,” Ahlfeld said.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey, the constitutional amendment would need to move through the California Assembly and Senate, and then be approved by the governor. California voters would also need to approve it.
Nineteen other states already have similar bills waiting in the wings. But for now, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court’s decision on the New Jersey case this summer.