California Forum

Legalized sports gambling in California? The Supreme Court is right – it’s a sure bet

Supreme Court lets states legalize sports betting in historic 6-3 decision

With a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that legalizing sports betting should be left up to each state.
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With a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that legalizing sports betting should be left up to each state.

With this month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, individual states now have the ability to legalize sports wagering within their borders. Millions of Californians bet on sports in Nevada and on off-shore unregulated sites and will continue to do so whether or not the state makes it legal.

California lawmakers and the gaming industry therefore have a responsibility to create a legal, transparent sports betting industry that protects the public and benefits the state.

Sports betting offers a bigger, better prize than iPoker – for everyone – and with these higher stakes, the gaming industry needs to come together to ensure this opportunity is available for everyone in the state.

Legalized sports betting would create jobs, generate additional tax revenue to support vital public services and enhance sports fans’ viewing experience. Recently, the California economy surpassed the United Kingdom to become the fifth largest economy in the world.

Legal since 2005 in Britain, sports wagering generates nearly $5 billion dollars of revenue, over $700 million in taxes and has created thousands of jobs. A legal well regulated market here could have the same benefits.

Most importantly, legalized sports wagering will bring billions of dollars of activity under regulatory oversight to ensure the qualifications of the operators, to protect consumers and problem gamblers, and enhance the integrity of the sporting events. By establishing clear rules, referees and penalties, California has a real opportunity to create a new and better playing field.

Members of the California Gaming Association support efforts to create a legal sports betting industry. For almost two decades, the CGA has represented the cardroom industry in California, which generates two billion dollars in economic activity, provides more than 23,000 well-paying jobs to Californians and provides critical tax support to dozens of communities across the state.

A majority of cardroom visitors have a strong interest in sports – several cardrooms already offer off-track satellite wagering – and our industry is committed to a world class guest experience in any new activity we offer.

Tribal casinos, horseracing, sports leagues and associations, the fantasy sports industry and payment processors also all have a strong interest in a safe, transparent sports wagering industry. In addition, consumer protection groups, cities and counties, regulators, law enforcement and responsible gambling proponents all have vested interests in a legal sports betting industry. None of these groups benefit by having sports wagering remain underground without rules and referees.

For the past decade, the Legislature was prevented from taking action on internet poker opportunities due to the divergent positions of various groups. Sports betting offers a bigger, better prize than iPoker – for everyone – and with these higher stakes, the gaming industry needs to come together to ensure this opportunity is available for everyone in the state. Our constitution grants tribes the exclusive right to banked card games, but does not provide anyone the right to conduct sports wagering.

We support amending the Constitution to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate sports wagering for the gaming industry as a whole. We need to trust proven leaders like Assemblyman Adam Gray to promote teamwork in the pursuit of the winning game plan.

Kyle Kirkland is president of the California Gaming Assn. Reach him at kyle@calgaming.org.

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