In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from sanctioning sports betting. That doesn’t mean the sportsbook is open now, but California voters may soon get the chance to place their bets.
In June of this year, Assembly Member Adam Gray introduced ACA 16, a proposed state constitutional amendment that, if passed by the legislature with a two-thirds vote, would put the question of whether to legalize sports gambling in front of voters on the 2020 ballot.
It’s no surprise that California is looking to cash in: Since the Supreme Court decision, 18 states have legalized sports betting, and 24 others are considering legislation to capitalized on the estimated $150 billion illegally wagered on sports every year, mostly via the internet.
Making sports betting legal in California would depend on coming to an agreement with the Native American tribal groups who have exclusive rights to allow gambling at casinos on tribal lands. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) said in a June press release, “We… insist that federally recognized tribes are included in all stakeholder meetings and hearings held on the issue and a thorough analysis of the social and economic effects of legalizing sports wagering be completed prior to final initiative language.”
Another factor to consider is the public health concern. Research by the National Council on Problem Gambling indicates that “2 million U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4-6 million would be considered problem gamblers; that is, they do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling, but meet one of more of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior.”
The California Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling (OPG) offers resources, as well as around-the-clock, no-cost, confidential help to anyone impacted by a gambling disorder. OPG describes the gambling addict as one battling a compulsion to continue gambling, even when there is no chance to recoup the cost of bets.
If you decide to find help for a gambling addiction with a marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, clinical counselor, or psychologist, you can check to see if they have a valid license with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences or the California Board of Psychology by using the license search page on the appropriate entity’s website.