PlayUSA Rewind: A Roller Coaster Week For California Sports Betting

Posted on June 17, 2020 - Last Updated on June 16, 2020

What a week.

The NBA is finalizing plans to resume play in OrlandoFlorida, at the end of July. The PGA Tour returned in thrilling fashion. Casinos continue to reopen nationwide.

Yet one state captured headlines seemingly every day, as a legalized sports betting tug of war continues out west.

On to the Rewind:

Wild week surrounding California sports betting

Rarely a day passed without some sort of news emerging from California. One of the windiest roads to legalizing sports betting, without a doubt, provided ample sights last week.

The California Senate Appropriations Committee forwarded a bill to regulate wagering to the “suspense file,” thus allowing additional bodies to thoroughly review the proposal.

For now, SCA 6 awaits further consideration from the appropriations committee, which can only occur once the Finance Office completes its review of the measure. Theoretically, a member of the appropriations committee could vote to advance the proposal to the Senate. Of course, the opposite could very well happen, killing the bill in its tracks.

As it has been well-publicized, the proposal faces heavy opposition, specifically from California tribes. In fact, tribal leaders filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court of the State of California in hopes of adding time lost to gather signatures for their own initiative to legalize sports betting.

The coalition has sent the petition back to the streets for signatures, an initiative that would restrict sports betting to tribal casinos and racetracks. It appeared as if the petition was well on its way to reaching the required amount of signatures (about two-thirds) to put the measure in front of voters, but the coronavirus pandemic brought that process to a halt. As such, tribes suffered a significant setback.

Online gambling ahead of schedule in Michigan

With nearby Illinois issuing the first online sports betting licenses, it only seems natural to check in with Michigan.

There, regulators are ready to send out second drafts of internet gambling rules. With that step, they remain “cautiously optimistic” that online gaming could go live in Michigan before the end of the year.

During a meeting of the Michigan Gaming Control BoardRichard Kalm, the board’s executive director, noted that stakeholders will receive online sports betting and casino rules soon and the MGCB expects feedback shortly after.

As such, Kalm said, the “process is moving along on time” to launching online gambling in the state, potentially ahead of the anticipated target of early 2021.

While retail sports betting went live in early March, regulators and stakeholders have worked toward adding an online element. In May, Rep. Brandt Iden suggested that mobile gambling could arrive in Michigan by late summer.

Now, Kalm said “we believe that we’re going to do some online gaming hopefully before the first of the year.”

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Colorado casinos get OK to reopen

Nationwide, states have started green-lighting various businesses to reopen, including casinos, following months of coronavirus-related closure.

The latest to do so: Colorado.

Two counties in the Centennial State had their variance requests approved, recently, submissions that essentially make the counties exempt from the state’s “safer-at-home” policy. The result was casinos in Cripple Creek to resume operations June 15 and brick-and-mortars in Black Hawk and Central City to follow suit June 17.

Of course, those casinos will operate under restrictions set by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. To begin with, only slots will be open to guests while table games will remain closed off for at least three more weeks.

Additionally, casino floors will be limited to 50% capacity, employees must wear face masks, and any guests showing COVID-19 symptoms will be turned away.

No doubt, reopening these casinos is significant, especially for a state with newly launched legal sports betting. Consider that half of Gilpin County, for example, works in the gaming industry. And the county loses an estimated $1 million in tax revenue due to the closures.

Overall, Colorado has lost some $17 million in taxes because of shuttered casinos, at least through May. Now, these counties — and the state — can begin the road to financial recovery.

Grant Lucas Avatar
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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