No End To California Sports Betting Suspense As Hearing Delayed

Posted on June 18, 2020 - Last Updated on June 17, 2020

Alfred Hitchcock might be considered the master of suspense, but the California Senate Appropriations Committee is moving into contention.

The committee will make people wait a few extra days to hear the fate of the California sports betting bill. Last week, the committee put SCA 6 into a suspense file with many other bills and scheduled a suspense hearing for Thursday.

Sen. Bill Dodd’s office confirmed to Legal Sports Report that SCA 6 has been pulled from that hearing and now will be addressed Tuesday.

Proponents see the delay as a good sign. If the bill had no hope, it would have died in committee Thursday. Instead, lawmakers hope it can build momentum over the next few days.

Another reason for the extra time could be to finalize language for changes the authors plan to make. On Wednesday, representatives from each of the three major industry stakeholders told LSR that they still only had seen bullet points of the amendments.

Delay’s impact on California sports betting deadline

The California Assembly plans to adjourn for summer recess on Friday, which means the bill won’t reach the Senate floor until after the Assembly is off. However, there is talk of the Assembly returning Wednesday to address budget issues, possibly to continue the rest of the week.

Legalizing sports betting in California requires a constitutional amendment that must go in front of voters. The deadline for bills to pass through the legislature to make the November ballot is June 25.

It’s possible that the Assembly returns late next week and passes the bill.

Another option is that the California Secretary of State agrees to include the California sports betting referendum on a supplemental ballot. That could provide the legislature the necessary time to come back from summer break in mid-July and pass the bill.

Pechanga chairman criticizes legislative effort

Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, participated in a webinar Wednesday discussing the tribal perspective on SCA 6.

He dismissed the proposed changes to the bill sent to tribal leaders by Dodd the previous day.

“You’ve heard the expression lipstick on a pig? This adds the mascara on the same pig. It just got worse, is what happened. It talks about enforcement language, which is really enforcing the games the cardrooms will play, but after they get to legalize the illegal things they’re doing now.”

The proposed changes are intended to address two main tribal concerns through additional cardroom restrictions and a phasing-in of online sports betting. But the authors did not involve the concerned party in their drafting.

“The argument right now is the bill needs to stay in suspense; let’s just let it die a procedural death on hold,” Macarro said. “And maybe the legislature will engage tribes proactively before they put words to the page next year, if that’s the case.”

California tribes get their day in court

The Superior Court of California in Sacramento will hold an ex parte hearing Friday morning for the lawsuit filed by the tribal coalition behind a sports betting initiative effort.

Tribes are seeking an extension on collecting signatures for their ballot initiative.

Ballot efforts typically have 180 days to get the necessary signatures. According to the lawsuit, the tribal initiative collected 971,373 unverified signatures in less than two months when stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic stopped petition circulation on March 19.

Without an extension, those signatures would expire if the tribes can’t submit 997,131 verified signatures by July 20. The petitioners say they spent $7 million collecting those signatures.

Ex parte means only one party is required for the hearing. The judge will determine if the case will move forward on an expedited basis. The coalition filed the legal challenge on June 9.

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Matthew Kredell

Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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