Sports betting fans based in California have been dealt a blow with the news that there will by no vote on legalisation during 2020.
Californian lawmakers have officially ended their bid introduce legalised sports betting in the state as the deadline looms to get the issue onto the November election ballot for a public vote.
State lawmakers and the state’s tribal authorities had hoped to have their own proposals for the legalisation of the sports betting sector included on the ballot for November. But both parties have now said they will not be able to make this week’s deadline for ballot submissions due to delays caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown.
California Lawmakers’ original proposal to legalise sports betting had met with strong resistance from tribes in the area who fear that online sports betting could cause harm to their land-based casinos. Tribes instead were planning to put forward their own proposal that would have legalised sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks only. But the impact of the pandemic meant that they were unable to collect a sufficient number of signatures before the deadline.
Their main chance now appears to be through the courts with a court-ordered extension of the deadline, though it is uncertain how likely they are to gain such an extension.
Meanwhile, state senator Bill Dodd of Napa has said that he will keep pushing for his rival proposed legislation, but aiming for the 2022 mid-term elections. Speaking about the situation he focused on the importance of bringing sports betting out of the shadows and using it to generate revenue for the people of California, but he acknowledged the current problems:
“Given the deadlines for getting a measure on the November ballot and the impact of Covid-19 on the public’s ability to weigh in, we were not able to get the bill across the finish line this year”.
Dodd, along with assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced, had claimed that the legalisation of sports betting would eventually create up to US$700 million a year in taxation revenue. This would be a major boost for a state facing a Covid-19 related budget deficit of $54 billion.
Gray and Dodd had first put the idea forward not long after the overturn of the federal ban on sports betting by the Supreme Court in May 2018. In the two years since, over 20 states have authorised the sports betting sector. But the effort faces stiff opposition from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, which said that internet sports betting threatens their businesses.
It has been reported that over a million people have signed the proposals from the tribes, but they were still some way short of verifying the signatures before Thursday’s deadline.