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Californians to vote on whether to legalize sports betting this November

The Golden State could offer the most lucrative market for sports betting, generating more than $3 billion a year in revenue: but only if voters approve it.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — With March Madness here, an estimated 45 million Americans will bet more than $3 billion in total on this year's Big Dance: wagers that are currently not legal here in California.

Currently, 30 other states, including all those bordering California, have already authorized sports betting operations, and are benefiting from the tax revenue.

Gaming experts say that California could offer the most lucrative market for sports betting, generating more than $3 billion a year in revenue: but only if voters legalize the practice.

Come this November, Californians will most likely have at least two different options to vote on.

Californians appear open to the idea: a recent survey by UC Berkeley and the LA Times found that 45% of voters would support amending our state's constitution to allow sports betting; one third say they're opposed; and 22% remain undecided.

One major decision voters will be making is exactly how to establish legal sports betting in the Golden State.

"We know we have a strong case to make," said Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Tribal Sports Wagering Act, which has already qualified to appear on the November ballot.

Supported by the state's Native American tribes, it would require in-person betting at any of California's tribal casinos and at its four racetracks.

"We believe it is a responsible approach to sports betting in California," she told CBS 8. 

According to the state's non-partisan, independent budget analyst, this measure would generate tens of millions of dollars for the state's general fund. 

"Which then goes to fund schools and transportation and other state priorities," Fairbanks said. 

A competing proposed measure, which appears well on its way to securing enough signatures to appear on the ballot, calls itself the "California Solutions to Homeless and Mental Health Support Act". 

"We believe it is the best path forward for the state," said spokesperson Nathan Click. 

He added that this measure, led by national gaming companies Draft Kings and Fan Duel, would allow online sports betting, which is currently legal in 21 other states. 

"Our measure would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in solutions to homelessness and mental health," he told CBS 8. 

However, Fairbanks said voters have concerns about online sports betting, especially when it comes to those who are underage.

"It would turn every cell phone, lap top, gaming console, and tablet into a gambling device with no way to ensure that people under 21 aren't gambling and betting on sports," she said. 

"Just look at our measure: it won't happen," Click countered. 

He said that safeguards will be in place to ensure minors aren't gambling.

"It enforces that by using state-of-the-art 'Know Your Customer' technology that big financial institutions like big banks use to verify a customer's identity," he said. 

"There is no fool-proof way to prevent underage gambling," Fairbanks said, "At least with the technology we have today,"

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