LOS ANGELES (AP) – The gaming industry and Native American tribes are banking heavily on dueling proposals to legalize sports betting in California, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the costliest campaign campaign in US history.
But the voters casting their ballots in the midterm elections, which end Tuesday may not wish to be a part of this action.
Californians were inundated with a blast of advertising as supporters try to legalize sports betting by allowing it in tribal casinos and racetracks or through mobile and online betting.
Because it’s a multi-billion-dollar market, advocates raised almost $600 million — more than 250% more than the record amount spent by Uber, Lyft, in 2020 and other app-based ride-hailing and delivery services to prevent drivers from becoming employees who are entitled to benefits and job protection.
Still, pre-election polls showed that both voting measures faced an uphill battle to win a majority. If both are passed, a provision in the California Constitution provides that whichever receives the most votes shall have precedence.
More than 30 other states allow sports bettingbut gambling in California is currently limited to Native American casinos, racetracks, card rooms and the state lottery.
Proponents of the two initiatives propose different ways to offer sports betting, and each touts different benefits that they say will accrue to the state if their measure is approved.
Proposition 26 would allow casinos and the state’s four racetracks to offer in-person sports betting. Funded by a coalition of tribes, the initiative would also allow roulette and dice games in casinos.
A 10% tax would help fund enforcement of gambling laws and programs to help addicts.
Proposal 27 would allow online and mobile sports betting for adults. Large gambling companies would have to partner with a tribe involved in gambling, or tribes could enter the market themselves.
This action is supported by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel – the latter is the official odds provider for The Associated Press – as well as other national sportsbooks and some Tribes.
The initiative is being promoted for funding, which it promises to channel through tax revenues to help the homeless, the mentally ill and poorer tribes not enriched by casinos.
The bipartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office noted that both initiatives would increase government revenue, but it’s unclear by how much. Proposition 26 could bring in tens of millions of dollars, while Proposition 27 could bring in hundreds of millions, the bureau said.
However, that revenue could be offset if people spend their money on sports betting instead of shopping or buying lottery tickets.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has not commented on either proposal, but said Proposition 27 is “not a homeless initiative.”
The California Republican Party rejects both proposals. State Democrats oppose Proposition 27 but are neutral on Proposition 26. Major League Baseball supports Proposition 27.
The No on Prop 26 campaign, funded largely by card games that will lose out, says the move would give a handful of wealthy and powerful tribes “a virtual monopoly on all gambling in California.”
The No on 27 committee says the proposal is based on misleading promises and says the gambling companies behind it “didn’t write it for the homeless, they wrote it for themselves”.
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