California sports-betting bill advanced by Senate panel
The bill was approved unanimously by the state Senate Governmental Organization Committee on its way toward the Senate floor, but even if the Legislature enacts the measure, sports betting could not begin until the federal government also lifts a ban on the activity.
Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) predicted the federal ban would be lifted and said his measure would mean significant new money for the state's depleted treasury, stopping the cash from instead going to Nevada or other states exempted from the federal ban.
"Californians spend multiple billions of dollars going to places where this is legal," Wright told the members of the committee he chairs. The measure would allow sports betting at existing California horse-racing tracks, card clubs and Indian casinos, and was backed by the California Gaming Assn., a group of 71 poker halls.
The measure was opposed by Rev. James Butler, head of the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, who said it would increase problem gambling and jeopardize the integrity of sports.
Sports betting, he said, "is rife for the potential of corruption."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Kobe Bryant of the Lakers drives against a defender. Credit: Jim Weber / Associated Press