When legalized sports gambling will likely be approved in California


California’s path to legalized sports betting is not expected to be as quick or as easy as other states in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling removing the law that prevented all states other than Nevada from accepting sports bets.

The issue: Any change in the law entails a constitutional amendment, which because it requires a public vote is a more difficult process than merely ramrodding a bill through the Assembly and Senate. According to some experts, such a proposal would have only until late June to get such a measure on the November ballot, and it would require a two-thirds vote to gain approval.

That said, Democratic assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced prepared such an amendment – Assembly Constitutional Amendment 18 – a year ago, so much of the preliminary work has been done. In addition, while hearings would have to be held on any such measure to sort out details on what enterprises could take bets and under what conditions, there seems to be little true opposition on either side of the aisle to such a bill.

In addition, more than 75 percent of eligible voters in California are eligible to vote, the highest percentage for any off-year election in 64 years, and the sense among political analysts is that would also aid voter approval of a gambling amendment.

Thus, while legalized betting in California is not a slam-dunk to be available by the beginning of the football seasons (college and pro), there is no sense that it won’t eventually be approved. Only West Virginia has actually enacted a law allowing sports wagering, and Delaware is considered next, as a law already enacted was put on hold after a lawsuit brought by the sports leagues blocking implementation. Pennsylvania has also enacted a law that was pending repeal of PASPA, the federal law that prohibited open sports betting everywhere but Nevada, but there have objections raised over the proposed 35% tax rate.

In short, most states still have similar hurdles to legalization, so that the real cascade of legal betting, if it actually happens, is likely to happen in 2019.

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