Sports betting could soon be legal in California

FRESNO, Calif.

A State Senate bill to legalize sports betting is moving through the capitol right now.

A new Field Poll shows 58 percent of registered voters in California approve of sports betting while just 35 percent are against it.

If it passes, the bill could be a big win for places like the 500 Club.

Right now it's in the hands of the state lawmakers.

If passed it could mean much needed revenue for the state and local governments but some say it could also be a bad bet for crime and addiction.

Card houses like the 500 Club in Clovis could be expanding into a new betting business: sports betting.

The 500 Club recently moved into a new and bigger building, so casino managers say the desire for gaming is there and if the state allows for wagers on your favorite professional or college teams the demand would grow.

"We'll have a whole new clientele. A lot of poker players do like to gamble on sports, but there's a lot of sports gamblers who just like to be on their teams. So that would definitely bring more business," Ryan Frazier, casino host at the 500 Club, said.

According to the American Gaming Association, illegal sports gambling is a more than $300 billion industry nationwide.

Under Senate Bill 1390, racetracks, card houses and Native American casinos could open up for betting on sports.

While this may sound like a good source for new revenue, the California Tribal Business Alliance says tribal gaming could take a big hit.

"I think it's a double edge sword for tribal gaming. Yes, we would probably see an increase in business. However, I think that increase in business would definitely be outweighed by the business that would now go to urban areas," David Quintana of the California Tribal Business Alliance said.

Opponents worry sports betting could lead to gambling addiction or even fixed games. That, they say, could lead to public safety problems.

But Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea thinks the sports betters could help mend broken budgets.

"Where they have the opportunity to provide that service or amenity to the public then, of course, they have to hire more staff, which means that staff is purchasing more goods and services. So it's just the multiplier effect of how that dollar starts to turn over," Perea said.

The bill's next stop is the State Assembly Appropriations Committee.

If it passes in Sacramento, the bill would only go into effect if the federal ban on sports betting is changed or repealed. Online gambling is not included in this proposal.

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