When Will California Have Legal Sports Betting?

It’s been a long time coming, but at last the great state of California has passed legislation that would officially allow horse racing and sports wagering. Known as the California Horse Racing Reform Act (Proposition 56), the new law brings California into line with most other states when it comes to sports betting legalization. The law would allow people of California to legally place wagers on sporting events as they’re being played out, whether or not their location is in California. The new law would also give the state’s three horse racing tracks – Del Mar, Golden Gate, and Los Angeles – the authority to establish official betting windows, where bettors could place their wagers.

The law must still be approved by the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, before it can officially take effect; and while the language of the proposed bill makes it sound like it would be a no-brainer, there are still a number of details that must be worked out before the law is in place. However, as the deadline for voting in the upcoming election draws nearer, it seems clear that, at the very least, California residents want the option of legal sports betting available within the state. With only a little over a month before Election Day, it’s time for state legislators to get to work and finalize the details so that when the clock strikes 12:00 a.m. on November 16, California will be able to join the more than 40 other states that have legalized sports betting.

The Reasons For Racing Reform

It’s been a tough few years for California’s horse racing industry, which has seen its share of patrons dwindle as they’ve shifted their gambling habits to the casinos. But, as it turns out, there were good reasons for the state to consider reforms in this area.

Amongst the factors contributing to the decline in horse racing were heavy betting restrictions imposed by the State of California in an attempt to curb Internet gambling. However, these restrictions made it difficult for the state’s three major horse racing tracks to continue operating as they had before. So, in 2015, the tracks worked together to get Proposition 50 on the ballot, which would have lifted the online gambling restriction and allowed the tracks to continue offering their traditional betting options.

In 2016, Proposition 56 was proposed, and although it was initially rejected by voters, the final count was so close that it wasn’t clear whether or not the state would still be able to keep its monopoly on sports betting. Ultimately, Proposition 56 won by a margin of 52% to 48%, and it was unanimously approved by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown. So, in a nutshell, here’s what happened:

Racing Comes First

In a news release published on Thursday, the California horse racing industry explained how the new law would benefit its members. According to the release, the law “places the health and safety of the horse as its top priority, providing for enhanced veterinary care, testing before and after the races, and other measures.” It also notes that “racing is a key part of California’s cultural heritage, and we are proud to have played a part in ensuring it remains a part of California’s future.”

As important as it is to support the state’s horse racing industry, it’s also imperative that state lawmakers protect the rights of sports bettors in California. With only a few months left before the 2018 season kicks off, it’s time for the legislature to get to work and make sure that, when the time comes for sports betting to officially commence in November, it is done so in a manner that doesn’t infringe upon the rights of Californians who want to place a wager on their favorite sports team.