Legal Sports Betting in California Stalled due to Tribal Gambling Operators’ Objections

California’s plans to introduce legal sports betting have once again hit a snag due to the objections of the state’s tribal gambling operators. Senate Constitutional Amendment 6 (SCA 6) could have ushered in a further gambling expansion in the Golden State had it not died in the legislature yesterday after opposition from California’s Native American tribes.

Senator William “Bill” Dodd, who also sponsored the new legislation, announced his decision to pull the bill shortly before its hearing. The proposed amendment could have passed by Thursday on condition it had gained the approval of both California’s State Assembly and the State Senate.

This setback translates into further delays for legal sports wagering in California according to the bill’s co-sponsor, Assemblymember Adam Gray. The Golden State is unlikely to legalize this form of gambling before 2023, Mr. Gray insisted.

California Professional Teams Also Embrace Online Betting

Had it been approved, the legislation would have permitted wagering on sporting events via mobile devices and desktop computers. Online sports betting is a major moneymaker for the states that have currently embraced it, with 85% of the action occurring over the web rather than at landbased sportsbooks.

The idea of legal sports wagering has also been embraced by some of the professional teams from the Golden State, including the Giants, the Dodgers, and the Warriors. The teams went as far as sending a letter of support to Senator Dodd’s bill at the beginning of June, demanding online wagering to be included in the legislation.

The provisions of the bill, however, did not allow sports bets to be accepted in card rooms that hosted poker and other similar games. The state’s Native American tribes are against the amendment as they are trying to push forward their own version of sports wagering that does not include online betting, as lucrative as it could be.

California’s First Nations are looking to limit these activities to the premises of their landbased casinos and racetracks. Additionally, the tribes want to prohibit wagering on college games that involve teams from the Golden State. Signatures for the tribal ballot measure that aims to legalize wagering on sports are collected by the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering.

Tribes Claim the Bill Violates the Agreement They Have with the States

This is a tribal-governed coalition that insists the constitutional amendment, sponsored by Senator Dodd, would have violated an existing agreement between the US states and the tribal governments by allowing Las Vegas-style gambling in card rooms. Furthermore, the tribal coalition claims to have already collected over one million signatures for its proposed measure for legal sports betting in native American casinos and racing tracks.

The legislation sponsored by Senator Dodd proposes that Indian casinos and racetracks are taxed at a rate of 10%, based on their gross betting revenue whereas online wagers would be taxed at 15%.

According to the proponents of the bill, SCA 6 would have brought as much as $500 million in annual revenue for the treasury. Senator Dodd himself insisted in a statement that legal sports wagering translates into a safer betting environment for Californian punters and an additional source of funding for the state. The Senator assured he would continue to work toward sports betting legalization in the future.