California betting ballot initiative; US optimists back legal betting

TAGs: California, sports betting

california-sports-betting-ballot-initativeSports betting could be on the November 2020 election ballot in California if a coalition of local card rooms and unidentified online gambling operators gets its way.

On Monday, Russell Lowery, president of Sacramento-based consultants Competitive Edge Advantage Inc., submitted a proposed revision to California’s gambling laws that would allow for legal sports betting in the Golden State.

Specifically, Lowery’s proposed Gaming Fairness and Accountability Act would empower California legislators to “authorize banking and percentage games including and not limited to sports wagering.” Lowery aims to get the roughly 500k signatures needed to the proposed constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot and then let voters have their say.

Lowery told the Los Angeles Times that he wasn’t yet at liberty to divulge the names of the parties he approached about supporting the initiative, saying only that he’d spoken with “in-state gaming interests, out-of-state gaming interests and the sports leagues” and that he’d found “enough interest to try and build a coalition” they’re calling Californians for Sports Betting.

California has made a number of half-hearted efforts to legalize sports wagering that predated last month’s US Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal betting prohibition. However, that ruling did nothing to bridge the chasm that traditionally separates California’s gaming stakeholders.

The state’s tribal gaming operators stated earlier this year that they would oppose any effort to legalize sports betting if the card rooms were involved. In February, the tribes threatened to file a lawsuit against the state if gaming regulators didn’t crack down on the card room’s so-called ‘player-banked’ games, which the tribes maintain are house-banked games by a different name and thus a violation of the tribes’ exclusive rights.

Last week, Delaware became the first state outside Nevada to offer legal single-game sports betting, while New Jersey plans to launch its legal betting market on Thursday. Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are expected to launch their own sports betting markets sometime this year, while New York is making a frantic last-minute push to legalize the activity before the legislature adjourns on June 20.

Meanwhile, a new Morning Consult survey claims legal wagering will grow the number of “younger and poorer” bettors. The survey, which queried 2,204 US adults shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, found that only 21% had spent any money on sports betting in the past year, while a similar figure said legal sports betting would make it more likely that they would bet on sports.

The survey found that prospective bettors were more likely to be under 35 years old and more likely to have an annual income of under $50k per year. Hispanics were most enthusiastic about legal betting, with 30% saying they were more likely to bet, compared to 24% for African-Americans and 20% for Caucasians. On the religion front, some 38% of Jews were more likely to bet compared to 21% of Christians. Mazeltov!

Interestingly, respondents who believe that America is heading in the right direction were much more likely to bet (26%) than those who felt the country was on the wrong track (18%). So, depending on one’s political bent, either starry-eyed optimists or deluded fools are more likely to back betting.


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