Assemblyman Wants to Make Sports Betting a Reality in California

California Assemblymember Adam Gray has announced he has filed a constitutional amendment which should pave the way for the legalization of sports betting.

Of course, such a move will need to be confirmed by citizens in a ballot.

The amendment known as ACA 16 aims to amend Section 19, Article IV of the state Constitution, allowing the legislature to authorize sports betting regulation. In turn, this would allow the introduction of a regulatory framework for sports betting and would introduce a corresponding tax system for the vertical.

Bringing Sports Betting to California

According to Adam Gray, who is the chairman of Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, the goal of the latest amendment represents a response to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal the controversial Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, in May last year, which effectively put an end to a 25-year-long federal ban on sports betting.

Speaking about the amendment, Gay said the U.S. Supreme Court had shouldered the burden of bringing legal clarity to the issue of sports wagering and the rights of states under the Constitution. He added it was the responsibility of the Legislature to determine the most prudent way forward.

At this moment, a total of eight states currently offers legal sports betting, with more than 35 of them seriously considering proposals. Only a couple of days ago, Maine approved its sports betting bill, and the state is now only a signature away from legalizing this activity.

Sports betting was very popular even before the PASPA was repealed, with nearly $150 billion wagered on sports illegally on a yearly basis.

Gray explained that whether anyone liked it or not, Californians were already betting on sports through illegal internationally-based websites. He pointed out it was time to shine a light on the multibillion-dollar industry.

Creating a Safe Environment

Gray added that illegal and unregulated online gaming should be replaced with a safe and responsible option which included safeguards against compulsive and underage gambling, money laundering, and fraud.

He pointed out that all other gaming activities in California were subject to regulations that ensured the safety of consumers, and added sports wagering should be treated no differently.

The measures will need to be approved by voters in a referendum, where they’ll require a two-thirds majority. According to Gray, measures will be put to voters in November next year.

An additional amendment will be filed by Senate Government Organization Committee chair Bill Dodd.

Commenting on this initiative, Senator Dodd said he was looking forward to working with stakeholders in a collaborative effort to help bring the issue out of the shadows.

Dodd pointed out that by legalizing sports wagering California could some of the problems associated with an underground market such as fraud and tax evasion while investing in problem gambling education.

After the bill was filed earlier this week, the Assembly and Senate Governmental Organization Committees will hold a number of hearing on the question of sports betting, which will be used to give the members a chance to gather the opinion on the matter.