To Wager or Not To Wager – Calif. Looks Forward to a Sports Betting Referendum
There are several crucial referendums that will face Californians in the near future. One will determine whether the citizens of California can wager on sports without breaking the law. At the moment, the referendum is not guaranteed because it is still in its initial phase. But, its backers are nevertheless optimistic about it.
The Gambling Fairness and Accountability Act
The proposed referendum is the brainchild of Russell Lowery, who served as the chief of staff for the California Senate’s Republican Caucus. Lowery is also a lobbyist for Pacific Gas and Energy. These experiences have afforded him enough political skills to push for this referendum.
If the proposed referendum goes through, it will be called the Gambling Fairness and Accountability Act. Lowery is currently attempting to raise about $2.5 million, which is reportedly the amount required to push for the collection of at least 600,000 signatures from all over the state. If everything goes according to plan, Lowery promises to present the referendum before voters in California by November 2020.
A professional lobbyist and consultant, Lowery is reportedly acting on behalf of a group known as Californians for Sports Betting. He has already filed the required paperwork with the office of California’s attorney general, according to reports by LegalSportsReport.com and the Los Angeles Times.
A Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision
The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 26-year-old law that banned sports betting in the United States. The decision, which was made in May, has given way to the legalization of sports betting in several states already. Delaware was the first state to legalize the practice, followed by Pennsylvania, and then New Jersey.
The push by Lowery on behalf of Californians for Sports Betting and other interested parties has also been linked to the recent High Court ruling.
Good for Everyone
The American Gaming Association estimates that more than $150 billion is wagered illegally on sports and other kinds of bets every year. This practice is particularly prevalent in the Golden State.
Citing this fact, Lowery is arguing that legalizing sports betting in California would amount to consumer protection. For starters, legalizing sports betting would cushion customers from being exploited by sports betting platforms operating illegally in California. Currently, sports betting platforms in California charge high-interest rates and do not meet all the necessary regulations.
Additionally, the state government stands to earn a lot from legal sports betting agencies. Research shows that 55 percent of Americans support sports betting, and states such as California are quickly embracing the practice. Considering that billions of dollars change hands in sports betting every year, the state government would collect millions of dollars in tax every year. This money would benefit not only the sports sector but also the state as a whole.
It Will Take Some Time
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, it didn’t take more than two months before Delaware and several other states legalized sports betting. For California, however, it may take as long as four years, or at least two years depending on the referendum’s reception. This is according to David Clary, author of the book Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America, which was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court when overturning the sports betting ban.
There are two key requirements to legalize sports betting in California. First, a referendum has to be held and upheld by a majority of the voters. Second, the state constitution has to be amended, which will require approval by two-thirds of the legislature. All this will not only take time but also stir up arguments between supporters and critics of sports betting.
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