California Governor Signs Fair Pay to Play Act into Law

  • Senate Bill 206 allows college athletes in California to accept compensation for endorsements
  • The NCAA believes sports betting could influence players to engage in match-fixing
  • However, there will be less incentive for them to do so if they can now get paid
Fan celebrating a victory at an American football game.
College athletes in California will be allowed to accept endorsement money from 2023 onwards, thanks to the newly signed Fair Pay to Play Act. [Image: Shutterstock]

Senate Bill 206 signed

The Fair Pay to Play Act was signed into law this week in California, which could potentially impact future sports betting legalization in the state.

Senate Bill 206, which received bipartisan support, was signed by Governor Gavin Newson. It was originally introduced by Senators Steven Bradford and Nancy Skinner.

The Fair Pay to Play Act states that college athletes will be allowed to accept endorsement money from 2023 onwards. Athletes will be able to earn money from the use of their likeness, image, and name without fear of being punished.

Many professional athletes have publicly praised this move, including NBA legend LeBron James.

Traditionally, the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) has banned college athletes from accepting compensation for participating in sports.

Significant step forward

Governor Newson believes this move by California will be copied across the country in the coming years as it “transcends geographic and partisan lines.”

He went to highlight how athletes deserve this form of compensation. He spoke about the sacrifices these college athletes make, putting their future career prospects, health, and many years on the line to compete in sport. 

Newson spoke about the billions of dollars colleges make off their student athletes’ sacrifice and success without the athletes earning anything. He said:

That’s a bankrupt model – one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”

Potential for sports betting 

The NCAA tried to halt Fair Pay to Play legislation in California. However, nobody in either the Senate or the Assembly opposed this bill.

When there was a push to end the federal ban on sports betting, the NCAA was also staunchly opposed. The nonprofit organization had concerns about sports betting undermining the integrity of competitions and potentially jeopardizing the welfare of college athletes.

According to the NCAA, as college athletes have no income, they may be more tempted to participate in sports betting and potential match-fixing.

concerns about sports betting undermining the integrity of competitions

However, with the Golden State now allowing college athletes to be compensated through the likes of endorsements, this monetary pressure to engage in sports betting will no longer be as prevalent.

Therefore, this is now one less issue that stands in the way of legal sports betting in California.

Native tribes remain the main obstacle in the way of this potentially lucrative sports betting market. The tribes hold a lot of influence in the state and they do not want legal sports betting to jeopardize their current operations.