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Obvious Ally: Sports Leagues Step Up Support for California Legal Betting

The debate surrounding the potential of legal sports betting in California rages on. California, the most populous state in the nation is a sport wagering gold mine waiting to happen. Analysts say that a $30 billion annual handle is waiting in the wings and that $300 million in tax revenue per year could be generated from legalization. That alone should be enough of a nudge for the cash-strapped state to adopt a legal sports betting platform but another pro-gambling entity has emerged to push the state toward legalization – Pro sports leagues.


The state’s Indian tribes and card rooms have spoken up with each supporting a different path forward. The tribes have been largely unsupportive of the latest plans for legislation while the card rooms seem to like some amendments in the recently discussed Bills that would allow them to carry on with Vegas-style casino games in their jurisdictions. Despite it all, sports betting legislation in The Golden State is closer than it ever has been, and with Pro sports on the side of legalization, things could move faster than anyone imagined.


Pro Sports in California


The state of California is lush with professional sports franchises. 16 teams call the state home with all major North American sports having a presence there. It is little wonder that the sports leagues and team owners are after their piece of an enormous sports betting pie in what promises to be the biggest market in America.


A recent letter written by Greg Campbell on behalf of MLB, the NBA and the PGA illustrates the appetite Pro leagues have for legal sports betting. It reads in part: “We believe the top priority of any effort to legalize sports wagering must be to protect consumers and the integrity of sporting events. Currently, Californians are betting on sports through offshore websites and mobile apps that are unregulated, have no responsibility to protect the integrity of sports contests, and pay zero tax revenue.”


“The best — indeed, the only — way to reduce this illegal market is to provide an equally convenient alternative that is safe and legal. To ensure that consumers move away from the illegal market that exists today, any legal sports betting framework must include options for Californians to wager online and on mobile devices. We support SCA 6 because it will allow for a mobile sports wagering market.”


Campbell represents the majority of the sporting entities in the state and is backed up by a huge volume of evidence from other bet-friendly states that haves seen governments, sports leagues and teams, labor pools and gambling providers all benefit.


What About the NFL?


The NFL is on board with their own words of support for legal sports betting in California. The NFL’s support for legal betting in The Golden State is huge as they project the generate the most revenue for providers and ultimately the tax coffers for the state. In other states that have legal sports betting in place, teams have already forged relationships and partnership deals with gambling providers. Both benefit from the relationship and both work to pass on attractive promotions to both the betting public and sports fan alike.


NFL Vice President Jonathan Nabavi recently stated in a letter to Senator Dodd, Assemblyman Gray and members of the California State Legislature:


“The amended versions of SCA 6 and ACA 16 include measures that will help to protect the integrity of sports in a regulated sports betting environment and we look forward to being of assistance to the legislature as it works to move this legislation forward.”


California’s Outlook


There is still a ton of work to be done in California before legal sports betting is brought to the masses but the ducks are lining up in favor of a launch possibly this year but definitely by next year at this time.


With sports leagues, some senators, with industry leaders and a good chunk of the public on board for legalization, it is inevitable that we see legal sports betting in the state before too long. A $54 billion budget shortfall, a rumored $14 billion in cuts to programs in the state, and an estimated $500 million per year in tax revenue for the state may also speed the process along.