In the battle over sports betting in California, several of the state’s legislative leaders are siding with the Indian tribes by pushing back against an initiative supported by online gaming giants.
Late Tuesday, the Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of California’s state legislature announced their opposition to Prop 27, effectively placing them in support of Prop 26.
California’s Top Democrat, GOP Lawmakers Oppose Prop 27
California’s legislative leadership, including the Democratic and Republican chiefs in the Senate and Assembly, found some common ground this week. They collectively came out against Prop 27, a ballot measure that would legalize online and mobile sports betting in California. Its rival measure, Prop 26, would allow sports betting only in-person at tribal casinos and CA’s four horse racetracks.
“California’s tribes have proven to be safe and responsible operators of gaming in California, providing benefits to their communities and to their members,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins said. “I stand with tribal governments in opposition to Prop 27 and support their right to operate gaming facilities on their lands.”
Atkins (D – San Diego), Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D – Lakewood), Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R – Nicolaus), and Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R – Santa Clarita) released a joint statement condemning Prop 27.
“Californians should vote ‘No’ on 27 and support California tribes over out-of-state corporations,” Rendon said.
Prop 27 would legalize online sports betting for people in California who are at least 21 years old. It would also allow sportsbooks to partner with California Indian tribes. The Republican leaders fear the measure will undercut the tribes that operate California’s 66 casinos.
“We need to protect tribal sovereignty and gaming in California,” Gallagher said. “Prop 27 threatens the current system, approved by voters, that allows tribes to use their lands to be self-reliant while also providing tremendous benefit to the communities they serve.”
Lawmakers Silently Saying ‘Yes’ on Prop 26
In the lawmakers’ remarks, they never mentioned Prop 26. It would allow tribal casinos and state-licensed racetracks to offer retail sportsbooks in their facilities. Prop 26 allows tribal casinos to offer roulette and dice-based table games, too. It would also expand the Private Attorneys General Act to enable casinos to hire lawyers privately in place of the state attorney general to sue California card rooms.
Prop 26 would place a 10% tax on all betting at racetracks, while bets placed at tribal casinos would not be taxed. Tax revenue would be split in three ways, with 70% headed to California’s General Fund, 15% to address gambling addiction prevention and mental health programs, and the other 15% to implement and regulate sports wagering.
Despite not mentioning it, the opposition to Prop 27 indicates that these legislative leaders are throwing their support behind Prop 26. Most tribes in the state have come out against Prop 27. However, some smaller tribes have publicly supported the online CA sports betting measure.
Voters will decide on the two competing sports betting initiatives in the November election.