Central coast casinos eyeing sports gambling law change

Posted at 10:41 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 01:41:37-04

The Supreme Court made a historic move on Monday- voting to strike down a federal law that bars sports gambling.

The ruling sets the stage to expand legalized gambling as a revenue source. It’s now up to the states to decide if and when they want to allow sports betting.

California lawmakers are already making moves in an attempt to make sports betting legal in California.

They’re one of several states looking to cash in on the $150 billion that Americans spend every year betting illegally in sports.

Dozens of card rooms in California are licensed through the California Gaming Commission. Five of those are on the Central Coast, including Paso Robles Casino.

 "Those who have been owner-operators of gaming establishments have been vetted by the Department of Justice and the California Gaming Commission and it’s a very serious hurdle because it’s a highly regulated industry," said Don Ezzell, owner of Paso Robles Casino.

Ezzell says because they’ve operated under strict regulation for years, card rooms could get first dibs at a sports gambling license if it’s legalized in California.

"There are a lot of sports enthusiasts and we would certainly want to offer what our customers are interested in," said Ezzell.

California’s Attorney General is eager to have a conversation with local gaming operators.

"He has called the owners of all the private gaming operations to a meeting in Sacramento on Wednesday and this is likely to be a hot topic," Ezzell said.

State lawmakers and tribes who run California casinos say voters would have to change the state’s constitution to make sports betting legal.

There is a June deadline for lawmakers to put it on the November ballot.

Tribes would likely compete with card rooms and horse tracks for the chance to run the sports book if legalized.