The federal government currently preempts the states regarding the issue of sports gambling, allowing only four states to sanction the activity. This however may change soon, as legislators in California are considering a bill to decriminalize sports gambling in the state. Under the proposed Senate Bill 1390, which was recently approved overwhelmingly by the senate, sports betting would be allowed at licensed gambling establishments, including casinos and horse-racing tracks.
Unfortunately for freedom lovers, the bill is not the result of someone reading Lysander Spooner’s Vices are not Crimes and deciding to let a thousand flowers bloom. It is entirely an issue related to tax revenue generation, itself the result of profligate government.
It’s no secret that plenty of Californians – and folks in all the other states for that matter – place bets on sporting events, despite a federal prohibition. (Isn’t it funny how laws against non-violent behavior with no victim never seem to work out?) Because of this, legislators are hoping to begin regulating this gambling for the purposes of collecting licensing fees and taxes on winnings.
As part of the legislative process the committee researched Nevada’s sports gambling totals and estimated them to be somewhere north of two and a half billion dollars. Given California’s immense budget deficit, even a fraction of that multi-billion dollar industry would help to relieve fiscal strain. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Roderick Wright, said of the “illegal” gambling “We receive absolutely no money from it,” and suggested the state could end up with “a great deal of money” as a result of his bill.Details