There will be two similar-but-different initiatives up for a vote during next month’s general election. Both have to do with sports gambling and California’s Native tribes, but down in the finer details is where things get a little confusing.
While most of the attention seems to be going to Proposition 27, which would allow for online sports gambling in California, another battle is raging over Proposition 26, which is viewed as an alternative plan that many Native American Tribal leaders hope will have a better chance of passing.
So what is Prop 26 and how is it different from Prop 27?
Prop 26 would clear the way for sports gambling to make its debut in California, but under more restrictive circumstances.
Whereas Prop 27 would allow anyone over the age of 21 to place a bet from the comfort of their couch using their computer or smartphone, Prop 26 uses the tried-and-true method of placing your bets in person.
Right now in California, the only sports betting that is allowed by law is at one of the state’s fours sanctioned racetracks. That being horse racing — it’s not legal to gamble on auto races and dog racing is nonexistent (and illegal) in California.
But if proponents of Prop 26 get their way, any adult of legal gambling age would be allowed to place bets on various sporting events when they are at a racetrack — even if what you’re gambling on isn’t happening at the track.
That’s not all, though. If passed, Prop 26 would also allow for sports gambling on tribal lands. Those bets would still have to be placed in-person at a tribal casino.
The initiative also includes language that would allow for tribal casinos to bring in dice games and roulette, which are currently illegal in California. Additionally, one often overlooked measure in Prop 26 would also allow for tribes to sue cardrooms, which they allege are offering games like blackjack illegally.
Proponents of Prop 26 say it’s a better sports gambling alternative compared to Prop 27. A big hiccup for 27 is the involvement of out-of-state gaming companies who would rake in the majority of the profits from bets. However, an analysis by state officials found the passage of Prop 27 would still bring in hundreds of millions in taxes and fee revenue to the state.
Prop 26 would bring in tens of millions, but would put more control of the gambling landscape into the hands of California tribes, which have enjoyed a near-monopoly in California for decades.
But whereas 27 would use the bulk of its funds to support homelessness programs, gambling addiction programs and provide support to tribes that don’t have casinos, Prop 26 funds would be treated as state tax revenue and would be used to help with public education and community colleges, with any leftover being added to the state’s general fund.
The initiative is backed by a number of large California tribes that own casinos, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in Santa Barbara County and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Riverside County.
Those opposed to Prop 26 are primarily the supporters of Prop 27, including some smaller Native American tribes that do not have casinos. Prop 27, if passed, would provide funds to those tribes and any gaming company (like FanDuel and DraftKings) looking to get into the California market would have to partner with a tribe to make that happen. The gaming companies are against 26 in hopes of passing 27.
Also against 26 is the aforementioned cardrooms. Owners and operators of the cardrooms worry that the legal action made possible through Prop 26 would put them out of business.
Here’s what a “Yes” or “No” vote means on your November ballot:
“A YES vote on this measure means: Four racetracks could offer in-person sports betting. Racetracks would pay the state a share of sports bets made. Tribal casinos could offer in-person sports betting, roulette, and games played with dice (such as craps) if permitted by individual tribal gambling agreements with the state. Tribes would be required to support state sports betting regulatory costs at casinos. People and entities would have a new way to seek enforcement of certain state gambling laws.”
“A NO vote on this measure means: Sports betting would continue to be illegal in California. Tribal casinos would continue to be unable to offer roulette and games played with dice. No changes would be made to the way state gambling laws are enforced.”
So if you are in favor of bringing sports gambling to California, but don’t think it should be done online or from smartphones and you have concerns about out-of-state companies making the lion’s share of the profit, then you would probably want to vote for Prop 26.
If you want to be able to gamble on sports from your mobile device and think the money brought in from tribes partnering with the big gaming companies will do more for the state, then Prop 27 is your friend.
If you don’t think sports gambling should be allowed at all in California, then you would want to vote “No” on both. Make sense? No?
If you’re still confused, you’re not alone. According to CalMatters, four advertising campaigns are involved in the ballot battle, which is the most expensive initiative in California history.
One campaign is focused on defeating Prop 27 alone. Another is dedicated to supporting Prop 26 while simultaneously defeating Prop 27. A third campaign, which is bankrolled primarily by DraftKings and the like, is gunning simply for passage of Prop 27. And finally, a fourth campaign, which is supported by the threatened cardrooms, is aimed at strictly defeating Prop 26.
Despite all the money poured into the contests (more than $500 million as of Sept. 20), both propositions are expected to fail, according to a poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. The study is co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
Some experts say that those political ads between the many campaigns are expected to ease up a bit due to the tepid response from voters. That means don’t be surprised to see similar proposals in the coming months and years. The battle is hardly over for what is expected to be the most lucrative gambling market in America.
All registered voters in California will be mailed a ballot ahead of the election. Ballots are expected to be sent out 29 days before Nov. 8.