New Calif. Sports Betting Bill Gets Started

Revived measure clears first Senate committee test; future hinges on New Jersey case.

A revived bill to allow sports betting at California horse racing enclosures and other gambling establishments cleared its first committee test during the week of April 22.

The measure, SB 190 by Sen. Roderick Wright, was amended to remove satellite wagering facilities as approved locations for wagering on professional and collegiate sporting events. It cleared the Senate Governmental Organization Committee by an 11-0 vote April 23 and next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Wright's bill last year, SB 1390, cleared the full Senate on a 32-2 vote but was stuck in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It never made it to the Assembly floor after running into opposition from the major professional sports leagues and the NCAA.

The current bill could not take effect unless there is resolution of New Jersey's court fight with the sports league and the U.S. Justice Department that would allow such wagering. New Jersey is challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which prohibits all but four states Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregonfrom offering forms of legal sports betting.

New Jersey is appealing an initial ruling in favor of the sports leagues, with arguments expected to be heard in June by the 3rd District Court of Appeals, according to reports.

"The idea is we want to get this statute in place so that should the federal law make a change, or should New Jersey be successful, we'd be ready to go," Wright said during the hearing. Wright, a Democrat, represents a district that includes Betfair Hollywood Park.