A new California bill addressing sports betting is beginning to gain traction. The bill, which would legalize sports betting within the State if the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibiting sports betting is repealed or amended, was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization on Tuesday. The bill will next be sent to the California Senate Committee on Appropriations for final approval before a full Senate vote will take place.
California Is Closely Watching New Jersey’s Sports Betting Appeal
It should be reemphasized that the bill, if enacted, will not immediately legalize sports betting. As the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Roderick Wright, stated on Tuesday, “[t]he idea is we want to get this statute in place so that – should [PASPA] make a change or should New Jersey become successful with their challenge to the sports book limitations of the day – that we would be ready to go.”
As previously discussed on this blog last month, a 2012 New Jersey State law legalizing sports gambling in Atlantic City casinos was struck down by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey as directly conflicting with PASPA. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has already begun the appeals process of the District Court’s decision in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Governor Christie claims that PASPA, which outlawed sports gambling in all states other than Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware, is unconstitutional and an unlawful usurpation of states’ rights. Governor Christie has also expressed his intention to pursue the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, should his appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals be unsuccessful.
Future of Sports Betting in California
While the California bill has made fast progress through the initial Senate review committee, there is no guarantee that it will survive the Senate Appropriations Committee or a full Senate and House vote. Furthermore, should New Jersey be unsuccessful in its appeal and PASPA is left unchanged, the California bill will be rendered moot, as Senator Wright has expressed that California will not then pursue the matter in federal court.
The final adjudication of the New Jersey PASPA appeal and California’s sports betting bill should be of interest to all gaming attorneys and those interested in sports gambling law in general.
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