California Sports Betting Bill is Squashed, 2022 Becomes New Target

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The long and winding road to legalize sports betting in the state of California has come to a bitter end this week.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Bill Dodd, the bill cannot move forward and is therefore being pulled due to the large amount of opposition from the gaming tribes. Bill SCA 6 would have allowed sports betting to appear on the November ballot, but that won’t happen now.

It appears that 2022 will be the earliest voters can have a say on the matter, which means California will once again drop the ball on a lucrative industry.

A Failed Pursuit

With the quest to legalize sports betting coming to an end, Senator Dodd released a statement on the matter:

“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. It remains important that we lift this widespread practice out of the shadows to make it safer and to generate money for the people of California.”

This clearly wasn’t the result that Senator Dodd had hoped for. He had been banking on the bill being released from suspense this week in the Senate Appropriations Committee and picking up more momentum moving forward.

If the bill had gone one to become law, it would have allowed for legalized sports betting in person as well as online through tribal racetracks and gaming casinos.

Why the Opposition?

Since the start, there was strong opposition from the majority of tribes within the state. The reason for the opposition came down to the online aspect of it. Additionally, the specific language that appeared in the bill regarding how the cardrooms would feature games.

The legality of these issues needed clarification in the eyes of the tribes. Without that clarification, the tribes simply couldn’t support the bill. Leaders for the tribal opposition stated that the bill lacked tribal input from the beginning and that this was the result that bill SCA 6 deserved.

Ultimately, the gap between state lawmakers and tribal leaders was too much to overcome. And, with almost no time on the clock to get a measure approved for the November ballot, the bill and optimism for legal sports betting in California were dead in the water.

Is There a Route to Making It Legal?

This latest disappointment in the quest to legalize sports betting in the state has left many wondering if there is a viable path forward. Some even question whether or not sports betting can ever be made legal.

In reality, the earliest it could happen would be in 2022, which is obviously quite far off in the future. In fact, a coalition of California tribes is currently asking the court for more time in order to collect enough signatures that they can piece together their own sports betting initiative. The goal would be to have this initiative appear on the 2022 ballot.

The tribal coalition publicly declared that SCA 6 was nothing more than “smoke and mirrors” and another veiled attempt to circumvent the pacts with tribes.

So for now, it’s a wait and see approach as tribes hope they will be granted an extension on gathering signatures and then actually getting it to appear on the ballot in 2022.

California’s failure is a great lesson for other states looking to approve sports betting especially ones that already have gaming compacts with tribes.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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