California voters will notice two new propositions on their ballots this year: Propositions 26 and 27. These propose the legalization of sports betting in California, either in tribal casinos or online.
“My initial thoughts are negative,” political science junior Nick Hopkinson said. “I see gambling, especially institutional gambling, as exploitative of an addiction and something that ruins lives.”
Proposition 26 will allow tribal casinos and California’s four-horse race tracks to offer in-person sports betting. It would also allow casinos to begin offering roulette and dice games, including craps.
According to CalMatters, bets placed at horse race tracks would be taxed, but the proposed legislation won’t tax tribes. Instead, it requires tribes to reimburse the state for the cost of regulating betting.
The proposition also creates a new way of enforcing some gaming laws. It allows anyone to bring a lawsuit forward if they believe the laws are being violated and the State Department declines to act on it. The state would receive any money that results from penalties or settlements.
Supporters of Prop. 26 believe it will increase tribal self-sufficiency by bringing more business to the casinos. It will also protect against underage gambling by requiring people to be physically present when placing a bet.
Groups like the Yes on 26 committee, NAACP, California Young Democrats and the California District Attorneys Association are all in favor of the proposition.
“I think the generated tax revenue if used correctly could do some real good,” business administration senior Astrid Dominguez said. “I think the money could go toward the state education system and funding more tiny homes to combat homelessness.”
Opponents argue the new gaming law enforcement mechanism will be used by tribal casinos to sue competing card rooms and drive them out of business. Some casinos also allow 18-year-olds to gamble, so opponents believe the initiative could lead young people to develop gambling addictions.
The No on 26 committee, California Republican Party, California Black Chamber of Commerce and California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce all oppose the presented legislation.
A total of $161 million has been invested, reported by CalMatters. Of that, $118.4 million has been raised by supporters.
The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that 31% of likely voters will vote yes, 42% will vote no and 27% remain undecided.
Proposition 27, on the other hand, would allow licensed tribes and gaming companies to offer mobile and online sports betting for anyone over 21. Gaming companies – like FanDuel and DraftKings – would only be able to offer services if they made a deal with a tribe.
The proposition would make it very difficult for smaller gaming companies to compete after creating extremely high thresholds for companies to do business in California. Tribes and gaming companies would pay fees and taxes to the state that could total several hundred million dollars a year, according to CalMatters.
Most of the money would be used to address homelessness and for gambling addiction programs, while 15% would go to Native American tribes that aren’t involved in sports betting.
Supporters believe the new legislation would create a source of funding to reduce homelessness and allow every tribe to benefit, including those that opt out of offering sports betting.
Those in support of the proposition include the Yes on Prop. 27 committee, FanDuel, DraftKings, other gaming companies, the mayors of Fresno, Sacramento, Oakland and Long Beach and Major League Baseball.
“I think it’s hypocritical that a gambling bill will help fight gambling addiction,” graphic communications junior Jake MacConnell said. “That doesn’t make sense to me when the bill is clearly in support of gambling and casinos.”
Prop. 27 opponents believe it would turn every cell phone and computer into a gambling device and escalate the risks of underage and addictive gambling. They also believe it would take business away from tribal casinos and threaten tribal sovereignty, since the tribes would give up some rights to offer betting.
The No on Prop. 27 committee, California Democratic Party, California Republican Party and 50 Native American tribes and tribal organizations all oppose.
“I see how Prop. 27 specifically can be exclusionary and do harm to the Native American tribes that don’t have the means of entry,” Dominguez said. “That is my biggest concern, trying to ensure these groups are able to equally partake and aren’t disadvantaged even more by an unjust system.”
A total of $404.4 million has been invested in this proposition. Opponents have raised $234.6 million compared to the $169.8 million raised by supporters.
Of potential voters, 27% are projected to vote yes, 53% to vote no and 20% are undecided, according to the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.
California has been behind the eight ball in regards to both of these measures. Since the Supreme Court ruled states could legalize sports betting in 2018, 35 states and Washington D.C. have passed legislation. In 2020, California lawmakers tried to negotiate a deal but were unable to get a measure on the ballot.
“To be honest, I’m not sure California needs this,” Hopkinson said. “We have a strong economy as it is without these measures, and I’m not sure it’s worth the negative aspects.”
Voters will decide the fate of these two bills on Tuesday, Nov. 8 when they head to the polls.
“The consequences won’t be noticeable to anyone that doesn’t have a gambling addiction,” MacConnell said. “Both props will hurt those who have gambling addictions and their loved ones.”