Sen. Dodd, Asm. Gray Bill Advances to Legalize Sports Wagering

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

SACRAMENTO – A proposal from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced, to legalize sports betting in California, taking the practice out of the shadows and generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the state budget deficit, cleared a key committee Tuesday.

“The legalization of sports wagering gives California an opportunity to provide much-needed revenue to our state during tough economic times,” Sen. Dodd said. “Because sports betting will continue to occur regardless of its legality. A vote for my bill is a vote to regulate the industry, to protect consumers and to ensure California gets its fair share. I’ll be working with stakeholders as we continue to refine and advance the measure through the legislative process.”

"Illegal sports wagering goes on every day unregulated and untaxed in California,” Assemblymember Gray said. “Legalized sports wagering will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for vital services in our most vulnerable communities.”

Under the proposal, tribal casinos and the state’s major racetracks would be authorized to operate sports wagering at their facilities and via mobile devices, with strict third-party age and identity verification. Estimates put illegal sports wagering in the United States at $150 billion a year. The inclusion of mobile wagering is essential to convert a substantial percentage of the illegal market and ensure the state realizes meaningful revenue increases.

Experts say the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act would generate $500 million to $700 million in a mature market with at least $200 million expected in the first year. Revenue generated from legalization could support public education, infrastructure and other needs at a time when COVID-19 has caused a drastic reduction in revenue to state and local governments. 

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, permitting states to authorize the practice. 22 states have legalized sports wagering, and a majority of the remaining states are considering legislation. The constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Dodd and Assemblymember Gray would require statewide voter approval before sports wagering would be allowed.

The bill, which is supported by local governments and sports leagues, passed the Senate Governmental Organization committee on Tuesday. It moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The authors are aiming to put the measure to voters in the November 2020 election.

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Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.

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