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PlayUSA Rewind: Hopes For California Sports Betting Fizzle Out

Written By Grant Lucas | Updated:
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Another week gone, another week closer to major sports returning. Another week of casino reopenings. Another week of normalization.

That said, even with businesses opening their doors back up, continued emphasis on safety and distancing remains key if we wish to continue moving forward and away, hopefully, from the coronavirus pandemic.

Regardless, we trudge along. And with that, let’s get to the Rewind:

Online sports betting in California peters out

For weeks, California has been in the news — making progress on a state-backed proposal to regulate wagering.

Once again, the Golden State has the spotlight. This time, though, it happens for the wrong reasons.

As he confirmed to Legal Sports ReportSen. Bill Dodd, sponsor of SCA 6, pulled his bill from consideration due to increased opposition from gaming tribes.

Before this decision, as he told LSR, Dodd held out hope that his CA gaming bill would get released from suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee this week. Potentially, this would have allowed both legislative branches to approve the proposal, thus landing the bill on the November ballot.

If passed by voters, the bill would green-light online sports betting as well as retail wagering at tribal casinos and racetracks. Additionally, cardrooms would receive authorization to offer banked games, much to the chagrin of tribes. Hence, tribal opposition.

The pushback proved so immense that Dodd backed off. Now, the immediate future of legalized sports betting in California seems to reside solely with the tribes.

Tribal leaders have requested a court to grant extra time to gather enough signatures for their own initiative to legalize wagering, which would allow in-person sports betting on tribal lands. If an extension is granted, and if the coalition amasses enough signatures, that measure could reach the 2022 ballot.

Georgia sports betting bill gets new life

In March, a bill regarding traffic tickets passed through the House in Georgia. Why is this relevant?

Recently, legislators added a measure to HB 903: the legalization of sports betting.

As the Peach State scrambles to recoup revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic, the Senate Special Judiciary Committee elected to go this route, according to Sen. Burt Jones, because a regulated wagering industry in Georgia (particularly the online aspect) could add “significant revenue dollars” to a state the desperately needs it.

The initial Georgia sports betting model closely resembled that of Tennessee, where only online sports betting was legalized with a 20% tax rate (Jones proposed a 10% rate) and a requirement for operators to use official league data on in-play wagers. The bill made little, if any movement, before the pandemic. Now, Georgia, like every other state, is looking for additional revenue streams.

Questions remain about legalizing sports betting in the state, specifically if lawmakers can do so without amending the Georgia constitution.

As it stands, though, the bill would appoint the Georgia Lottery Corporation to oversee the state’s regulated wagering industry, which might be a way for legislators to avoid needing a constitutional amendment.

For now, the bill awaits judgment from the Senate.

Surprise! Illinois launches online sports betting

When the first legalized retail sportsbooks cropped up in Illinois in March, the expectation for online wagering to enter the fold was some time in 2021.

Three months later, Illinois online sports betting is up and running.

Within weeks, stakeholders and Gov. J.B. Pritzker provided hints that mobile wagering would arrive sooner than originally planned. Less than two weeks ago, the governor issued a directive to suspend the state’s requirement of in-person registration for online accounts. That indicated that Illinois could fast-track online betting.

Flash forward: BetRivers launched the state’s first online sportsbook.

The digital arm of Rush Street Interactive, BetRivers launched in Illinois to give the brand its fourth state with online wagering, joining New JerseyPennsylvania and Colorado.

Timing of the online introduction seems optimal, considering the return of the PGA Tour, the pending return of the NBA and even the likes of the MLBNFL, college football and MLB awaiting restarts/new seasons.

Potentially, more operators could go online soon. Seven casinos have received four-year master licenses. Among them is MGM Resorts International, which has shown aggressiveness with its BetMGM sportsbook in a number of other markets.

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Written by
Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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