A push for legal sports betting in California

Driving nearly four hours across the state border to place  bets on your favorite team is a gamble in itself. But what if it could be done — legally — from the very comfort of our home state?

California State Senator Roderick Wright is pushing for a bill that would legalize cash-only sports betting for everyone who is 21 and older. The bill would limit betting to locations that already allow it, such as race tracks and card rooms, and it would exclude California college sports.

Wright said the state could earn seven-and-a-half percent of the betting in taxes.

The senator pointed out that Californians are already spending $1 billion in Nevada on sports gaming, and keeping that money in the Golden State could mean some serious cash flow:

“$50 to $70 million a year is what [California’s] share would be. It’s not chicken feed is all I’m saying.”

A report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 1999 showed sports betting brought in $2.3 billion in one year, and illegal sports wagering increased by $380 billion.

Even though sports betting is legal in Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware, the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL oppose sports betting because they are concerned it could lead to fixed games.

Wright introduced a similar bill that failed last year, but said the latest modifications to the current bill address concerns raised previously from opponents.

If Wright’s bill passes, it would still need to be approved at the federal level before sports betting becomes legal in California.