States around the country are going to feel the financial backlash of the COVID-19 crisis. State budgets are going to fall short unless there are alternate forms of revenue.
Legislators are beginning to look at sports betting for relief in states that currently don’t allow online sports wagering. New Jersey, along with other legal online gambling states, has large numbers of tax dollars that come to the state every year as a result of igaming.
California has added itself to the list of states that will potentially look to allow sports wagering, and it could be this year.
On Thursday, two California lawmakers pitched the legalization of sports betting to help the budget, which has been harmed by the coronavirus shutdown. This proposal immediately created a stir in the state’s politics between those for and against the idea.
State Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa and Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced have begun to lobby the legalization of sports betting at horse tracks and Las Vegas-style casinos run by American Indian Tribes. Sports wagering could occur at these locations and online. These two lawmakers are pushing for this to be in an amendment on the November ballot.
State Is Lagging Behind
In many ways, California is considered to be a progressive state. But they currently trail 22 other states that have legalized sports betting since the Supreme Court ruling in 2018. This bill becomes more about the card rooms, casinos, and gambling competition in the state.
California would be a gold mine, with many sports teams in the state, including 16 total professional teams among the four major sports leagues. The vice presidents of the NBA and MLB have come out in support of the legalization of sports betting in California.
California would tax the gross revenue of onsite gambling by 10% and 15% on online and mobile gambling. Sen. Dodd and Assemblyman Gray have estimated that this could raise $500 to $700 million, with at least $200 million in the first year.
“Revenue from sports wagering will help us avoid teacher layoffs and painful cuts. At the same time, it will allow us to regulate a practice that happens anyway,” Dodd said in a statement.
Revenue Is Needed
Governor Gavin Newsom has said that there is a $54 million budget deficit that has been caused by the pandemic. He has been one of the main governors that has asked the federal government for more aid packages because of the money lost.
“It’s not just the state of California and its governor that is making an announcement along these lines. It’s governors all across this country,” Newsom said. “Federal government, we need you. These cuts can be negated. They can be dismissed with your support.”
But there are still some things that the state can do without the help of the federal government. Allowing sports betting is one of those.
Since the pandemic hit, California has filed over four million unemployment cases. This has been a problem around the country.
“It’s going to take longer than I think a lot of people think,” Newsom said.
The federal government has given local and state governments financial relief packages already, but this can only be used on deficits caused by the pandemic. Without a problem, California can still use a boost in revenue.
California will have an opportunity to add to the list of the states that allow sports gambling, and maybe even this year. It’s probable that this will eventually happen for them, but while facing a deficit as large as they are, a new source of revenue can’t come quick enough.
Hopefully, California will see this amendment to be placed on the November ballot.