California Legal Sports Betting Is One Step Closer Following Senate Committee Approval

The California Senate Committee has approved a bill that brings The Golden State one step closer to regulated sports betting.

The bill, SCA 6, was proposed last year by CA. State Sen. Bill Dodd. Last week, Dodd and CA. Assemblyman Adam Gray revised SCA 6 and ACA 16 (another proposal, filed by Gray) to include implementation details for California sportsbooks.

The bill includes a plan for a statewide referendum to allow sports betting. Two-thirds of voters would need to approve the motion for it to become legal under California state law.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations will hold a hearing on June 9, 2020, during which they will determine whether to move SCA 6 forward.

How Sports Betting Could Take Shape In California

The updated bills provide full details on how California could implement sports betting into its existing gambling landscape. It’s a clearer framework for sports betting than California has ever had in the past. Tribal casinos and racetracks would be allowed to offer sportsbooks, should the bills become law.

California’s cardrooms, however, would not be cleared to offer sportsbooks.

If approved as written, online sports betting sites would also be allowed, though with specific restrictions.

Here are the specifics:

  • California’s racetracks (there are four in the state) are allowed to offer sportsbooks at a single satellite facility.
  • Providers would be allowed to operate online sports wagering through a single website (no partnering with multiple providers).
  • Sportsbook operators must use official league data for their in-play and live betting offers.
  • Tribal casinos can add craps and roulette to their gaming floors.
  • 1% of licensee revenue mist fund responsible/problem gambling initiatives.
  • The licensing fee is $5 million. Online sportsbooks would pay a $1 million annual licensing fee.
  • Tax rates would be 10% for retail in-person sportsbooks and 15% for digital.

California’s Gambling Destinations

California is home to 69 tribal casinos. They’re located across the state, giving players access to a number of gambling options. This bodes well for bettors. Tribal operators will likely partner with technology providers (such as DraftKings, FanDuel, etc.) for online sportsbook platforms, giving Californians a wide variety of online wagering options.

California also hosts four horse racing tracks:

  • Santa Anita Park, Arcadia
  • Del Mar Racetrack, Del Mar
  • Golden Gate Fields, Albany
  • Los Alamitos Race Course, Cypress

If the bill becomes law, each of these locations will be able to apply for a sports betting license. If granted, the tracks can build satellite facilities for sports wagering in addition to launching an online sportsbook.

California has cardrooms throughout the state, each allowing a selection of card games legally under state law. Though they won’t be able to offer sports betting if the current legislation passes, they will remain in the state and still allow card games for betting enthusiasts.

The Future Of Sports Betting In California

The Covid-19 pandemic has put California’s state budget into a deficit exceeding $50 billion. And the state expects more losses as the pandemic continues. Sports betting offers one possible avenue to help recover a portion of the funds slashed by the coronavirus, with some revenue estimates hitting $2.5 billion.

Assemblyman Gray claims the market could drive $250 million in tax revenue at the suggested rate of 10% proposed in the two amendments.

The state’s sports betting bills could boost California’s budget, expand regulated gambling in its existing wagering properties, and shift bettors from gray-market/offshore operators to regulated platforms.

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. Cole writes for a number of online and print publications, including The Quill To Live, a book review site.