The future of legal sports betting in California boils down to just two voting proposals. With the crucial election just months away, competing interests behind the expanded gambling measures have thrown up their dukes and are ready to battle them on the public stage.
In November, Golden State voters will choose between a tribe-controlled rollout of retail sports betting and a laissez-faire, mobile-friendly format.
Legal betting puzzle
Both proposals have their strengths – both push for an idealized gambling industry that offers harmlessly earned additional government revenue.
But it’s clear in the fine print that these bills do much more than just legalize state sports betting. The details are as follows:
- Proposal 26: This measure delegates exclusive sports betting privileges to California’s state-recognized tribes. Wagering would be limited to on-site service at tribal casinos and racetracks subject to a 10% sales tax. State tribes would also gain access to roulette and craps games. One of the key changes accompanying this proposal is empowering tribes to prosecute other gambling houses for suspected illegal gambling activities.
- Suggestion 27: This measure would open up the space for out-of-state gaming conglomerates to partner with tribal and non-tribal gaming companies in California. Commercially run card rooms, professional sports leagues and native tribes would each be eligible to license sports betting on the condition that all state sports betting revenue would be taxed at 15%.
Despite the potential for national partnerships under Prop 26, many of the country’s biggest sportsbooks have shown their teeth at California tribes.
Tensions continue to mount
Through ads and press releases, PACs behind the interests of the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel have poured millions into wiping out the measure. From billboards to mailers, voters are seeing advertisements for Prop 26 attacks with harsh allegations of monopoly and foul play.
Likewise, the tribes have fought back just as hard, arguing that the authors behind Prop 27 are working in their own interest and against the state.
In response to a recent and vitriolic ad by California Solutions about tribal greed, the leader of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, Lynn Valbuena, condemned such unspoken attacks. She said,
“The extra-state companies behind this ad should pull it off immediately and apologize to tribal leaders. These for-profit Wall Street corporations have sunk to a new low by minimizing the advances made by tribal government games in California.”
It was a chaotic fight. So far, it’s safe to say that the two gambling interests are likely to remain at odds even after the midterm elections.
Even beyond California, the aggressive means these big companies have used to fight for betting privileges is sending a message to tribes in illegal sports betting states.
Picking One’s Battles
Aware of these very public and bitter feelings, some national sportsbooks have chosen to sit out the war in California. Caesars Entertainment explained its silence in a comment to journalists. CEO Tom Reeg said the following:
“We don’t want to be against tribal interests when we’re their partner. So we’ve remained neutral throughout California. You should expect this to be the case in any state where tribes are at odds with commercial interests.”
The stakes are high for potential California bettors. Of course, mobile sports betting apps are the easiest way to place your bets. But at what price does the privilege come?
Be sure to come back and visit our website for the latest on legal betting in California.
Source: NBC Sports