Sports-wagering bill introduced in California

A California assemblyman on Thursday introduced legislation that aims to authorize sports betting.

California Assemblyman Adam Gray said ACA 16, a proposed state constitutional amendment, is the start of a complex push for sports betting that will be followed by a series of joint informational hearings with the senate.

"The goal is to get something on the 2020 November ballot," Gray told ESPN on Thursday.

Many of the details on how sports betting would take place in California are undetermined, but Gray says he has visited with several of the state's professional sports franchises -- including the Sacramento Kings, LA Clippers and Los Angeles Rams -- and believes that momentum is building as more states enter the bookmaking business.

"I know there's significant interest throughout the California sports economy," Gray said.

Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal statute that had restricted state-sponsored sports betting to primarily Nevada. Since the ruling, legal sportsbooks have opened in seven states outside of Nevada, and roughly a dozen states are poised to begin taking bets in the coming year.

New Jersey sportsbooks began operating last June and have eclipsed $3 billion in wagers in their first 12 months, producing more than $172 million in taxable revenue. In May, for the first time, more money was bet at New Jersey sportsbooks than was bet at Nevada's books.

Even with more states offering sports betting, Nevada has not seen a drop in action. The state's sportsbooks for the first time eclipsed $5 billion in bets in 2018 and are on pace for another record-setting year. California, though, would be a big player entering the market.

Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming projects a fully mature California sports betting market, including online, could generate as much $2.1 billion in annual taxable revenue.

There's a ways to go and a lot of politics to be worked out first. California has many stakeholders in the gambling industry, including tribal governments, card clubs and horse racing tracks.

"My hope would be that we can find a landing spot for sports wagering, where it could enhance all of those institutions, as well as provide revenue and a regulated market for consumers," Gray added.

Gray's proposed amendment would require a two-thirds majority vote in the state legislature before being placed on the ballot.