Thursday June 21, 2012 : SPORTS BETTING MOVES FORWARD AGAIN IN CALIFORNIA (Update)
 
PASPA challenge looms closer with latest legislative developments
 
California state Sen. Rod Wright's legislative proposal seeking to legalise sports betting in the Golden State surged forward again Wednesday when the state House Governmental Organization Committee progressed bill SB1390.
 
The bill passed the Senate end May on a 32-2 vote  and poses a challenge to the federal Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act by allowing single-game sports betting.
 
The bill authorises all entities that are currently licensed by the state to conduct gambling activities – card clubs, racetracks and horse-racing satellite facilities at county fairgrounds – to apply to their regulatory agencies to add sports betting to their gambling offer.
 
At the request of Stanford and the University of Southern California, Wright has exempted gambling on games involving sports teams from California universities, whether they are playing at home or in another state.
 
Under the provisions of the bill, sports wagers would have to be made at the site of the licensed gambling establishment, could not be charged to a credit card, would have to placed by the individual making the bet, and would be permitted only by those 21 years old and older.
 
The committee analysis of the bill cites an estimate by industry experts that legalised sports betting in California could generate an additional 10,000 jobs at gaming establishments.
 
The House Appropriations Committee will now consider the measure and hopefully echo the Senate in approving it and sending it to Governor Jerry Brown for signature…following New Jersey's example and presenting federal legislators with yet another PASPA headache.
 
Speaking to the Ventura County Star newspaper after the committee had progressed his bill, Wright said that the prospect of a court clash with federal law did not worry him overmuch, as New Jersey was likely to set a precedent by challenging the PASPA before it was necessary for California and other states to do so.
 
"SB1390 gives us a statute ready to go when changes are made in federal law," Wright said. "There is a state in front of us that will absorb all the legal costs."
 
Passed in 1992, the PASPA restricts sports betting to Nevada and three other states, a situation that is increasingly being questioned on discriminatory grounds by other states anxious to generate tax revenues from betting activities.
 
Possible solutions to the federal vs. state problem include a bill introduced recently to Congress by New Jersey Senator Frank LoBiondo that seeks to allow additional states an opportunity to establish legal sports betting. Other options cannot exclude legal actions between states and the federal government.
 
Sports betting is a significant economic activity in the United States, the newspaper reports. The American Gaming Association estimates that $2.7 billion was wagered on sporting events in Nevada in 2010, generating more than $150 million in gross revenue to Nevada casinos.
 
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report in 1999 said that as much as $380 billion annually is wagered illegally on sporting events each year, "making sports betting the most widespread and popular form of gambling in America."
 
Wednesday's House Governmental Organization Committee hearing saw representatives of card clubs and racetracks testifying in support of the bill, whilst the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion opposed it, saying that such a bill would put California at risk of losing the right to host any collegiate championship sporting events sponsored by the NCAA.