During the video interview, Senator Wright commented: “The idea is that A. we would get a piece of the action, and B. we would have better control of protecting California consumers.”
SBR Natalie : Hello, this is Natalie Rydström with SportsbookReview.com, and we are continuing our series of segments on the legalization on gambling within individual states in the US, with an interview with Californian State Senator Roderick Wright, who has recently introduced two bills in California, one that would legalize sports betting in Casinos in California, and the other that is focused on online gaming. So you’re actually going to try and amend the constitution?
Senator Roderick Wright: Negative. We’re going to play within what is allowed by the constitution.
SBR Natalie: Ah ok ok, I think I read an article where they said that you were going to try and amend the constitution which is not what they are going to do in New Jersey, they’re not amending the constitution at all?
Senator Roderick Wright: Well no, actually New Jersey did amend their constitution to allow sports betting. Their constitution expressly forbid them doing it. When they tried to go the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court said they didn’t have standing because their constitution didn’t allow, nor did they have a statute to allow it. They have since gone back, amended the constitution and created the statute – and Governor (Christie) has since signed their statute, so they’re ready to go.
SBR Natalie: OK, and what do you think are the chances that these bills will actually become law, and who or what are the entities that are against it?
Senator Roderick Wright: I think we have a good shot. On the sports betting, that’s a new one, and thus far there’s not much competition. On the internet, again, when we started off everybody hated it. Now we’re down to where the majority of people like it. We’re sort of, as we do in the legislative process, we have people that are making recommendations around the edges but on balance, most people see it as something we ought to do.
SBR Natalie: Right, so talking about sports betting, perhaps you can clarify a bit because people are still a little confused. Current Federal Law, as far as I am aware, prohibits Sports Betting under the professional Amateur Sports Protection Act from 1992, but makes exceptions for Montana, Oregon, Delaware and Nevada. So in light on that, how’s it working with California? You’re not in those 4 states . .are you going to have to challenge that law?
Senator Roderick Wright: Well here’s what happened with New Jersey’s actions. They’re seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the 1992 federal law. There’s also as you may know a move in the federal government. What the 1992 law said was that states had a period of time to enact the sports betting orders. Those four states were the ones that did that within the window that was provided in the 1992 law. Many of us feel that A the window was too short, and more importantly violates the equal protection clause of the constitution; therefor, other states should be allowed to have a sportsbook at their discretion.
SBR Natalie: Right, Right, so states like California, and all states except those 4 that I mentioned, they can’t just decided to allow sports betting, they’re going to have to challenge the Federal Law .
Senator Roderick Wright: Exactly. The way the federal government works here is that if you don’t have a statute in place, then you can’t challenge. It’s kind of the chicken and egg question. If you don’t have a statute, then you can’t make the challenge. If you don’t make the challenge, then you can’t get the game. You have to make an effort to enact the statute, then have the federal government tell you that it’s illegal and then you end up in court. In our case, New Jersey will be in front of us. So to take a sports analogy, we’re going to be the tailback following New Jersey through the hole.
SBR Natalie: Right, so basically what you’re saying is that when a state, or New Jersey legalizes sports betting, it’s not that sports betting becomes legal right then and there, its basically the first step by challenging the Federal Government is what you’re saying?