Amendments Made to California Sports Betting Bill

A sports betting bill in California has been making great progress over the last few weeks, but it hit a minor snag earlier this week. Bill SCA 6 saw several amendments make to it in the Senate in an effort to keep both tribal nations and cardrooms happy.

Senator Bill Dodd sent out the proposed amendments to tribal leaders earlier this week in hopes that they would support the bill. Tribes recently expressed their opposition to SCA 6 at a pair of committee hearings in the Senate.

The changes did not please leaders of card rooms throughout California, although the Senate was giving them some form of expanded gaming. Even though both groups are still not offering their support for the bill, lawmakers could still pass the bill leaving the ultimate decision up to voters in the state.

The new bill would only authorize sports betting at tribal casinos and horse tracks in the state. That would keep card rooms from applying for a sports betting license, costing them millions of dollars.

Card rooms would be able to offer forms of blackjack through third-party proposition players, which will generate more revenue. This new change did not sit well with tribal leaders who have long believed that card rooms infringe on their gaming compacts with the state.

Another major concern of tribal leaders was that mobile sports wagering would hurt their business at land-based casinos. Tribal nations spend millions of dollars at these properties, and they want to protect their investments.

The new amendments to the bill noted that mobile sports wagering would be implemented in three phases, and it would be rolled out slowly. Fully mobile sports betting in the state of California would not be in place until 2023.

The hope is that sports betting goes live in September 2021 with bets only being taken at tribal casinos and horse racing properties. Mobile betting would be restricted to guests that are physically at these locations.

A year later, mobile sports betting would launch throughout the state, but customers would have to register for an account at the casinos. In September 2023, the in-person registration requirement is lifted, and customers can bet from anywhere in the state.

Suspense Hearing Postponed

The California Senate Appropriations Committee announced on Thursday that they are postponing the suspense hearing until Tuesday. SCA 6 was scheduled to be discussed on Thursday, but it was pulled from the list.

Lawmakers in support of the bill see this as a good sign because the committee could have simply killed the bill on Thursday. This will also give lawmakers time to make the necessary changes to the bill to include all of the new language.

The California Assembly plans to adjourn for the summer on Friday, and this would not give them time to discuss the bill. There is a chance that the Assembly can return next week to further discuss the budget.

The bill must be passed before June 25 if it was going to appear on the ballots in November, and lawmakers are simply running out of time. The California Secretary of State can also help push the bill through, giving lawmakers extra time to discuss the bill when they come back in mid-July.

There are still several steps that will need to be taken before sports betting is legalized in California, but there continues to be plenty of optimism. Lawmakers might not be able to get sports betting legalized in 2020, but it’s looking like it will happen at some point in California.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.