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California lawmakers again consider legalizing sports betting

February 7, 2013 |  8:00 am

Days after the Super Bowl provided one of the biggest wagering opportunities of the year, California officials are once again discussing legislation to legalize sports betting in this state.

State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) has had bill language drafted similar to SB 1390, the legislation he introduced last year that was approved by the Senate but stalled in the Assembly, according to Stan DiOrio, his legislative director.

On Wednesday, the Senate Republican Caucus put out a report on the issue, noting that new legislation is likely and that there are potential benefits to allowing Californians to legally place bets in their home state on the Lakers, Dodgers or Ducks games.

"Authorizing sports wagering at California's horse racing tracks and satellite wagering facilities on fair grounds, card clubs, and tribal casinos, for instance, could … bring more people into these facilities on slow business days," the report said. "Such a plan might provide the vital financial help to the racing and fair industries which they have been seeking desperately."

It also could provide tax revenue to the state, the report said. But, the Republican analysis warned that it would not be enough for the state to pass a law legalizing sports betting. That is because there is a federal prohibition on sports betting in all but a few states, according to the report, titled  "You Wanna Bet? Legalized Wagering on Sporting Events Gets a Second Look."

A lawsuit is challenging the federal law, and Congress is considering a bill to allow sports betting in some states, but the Republican analysis says the challenges are "great" to remove all the obstacles, including opposition from professional sports leagues that fear it will lead athletes and others to cheat.

"Many would argue that the opposite is true – that a legalized, regulated, and policed wagering environment will reduce cheating as sports-fixing schemes are, by their nature, done through illegal means,'' the report said.


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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Jacoby Jones, center, of the Baltimore Ravens runs for a touchdown in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during the Super Bowl. Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Image.