Another week goes by and another organization comes off the fence regarding sports betting in California. This week, it’s the turn of the baseball world to get involved, as the administration of Major League Baseball announced its backing for Proposition 27 as we get closer to the voting date on two separate propositions relating to the provision of sports betting in the richest state in the USA.
Prop 27, if passed, would permit sportsbook companies to offer betting services to Californians if the companies are already licensed in ten other states, or if they are licensed in five as well as operating at least twelve Class III casinos in the USA. Licenses would cost $100million and would require holders to form a partnership with a tribal nation resident in California. The measure is opposed by Congressional leaders on both the Republican and Democrat sides and by most tribes, who have thrown their weight behind Prop 26 – a measure which would allow retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos and licensed racetracks.
Polling up to this point has shown lukewarm support for both measures, with support for legalizing sports betting in the state checking in at just under 50%. However, there are still more than two months of campaigning to come, with eye-watering amounts of money already pledged towards the rival lobbying interests in the race, and it will be interesting to see where things stand when the measures come up on the ballot in November.
MLB’s support for Proposition 27 is based on what they claim is the legislation’s ability to safeguard the integrity of professional sports in the USA. Under provisions laid down by the proposition, any suspicious betting patterns would have to be reported by sportsbooks to the leagues concerned. Leagues would also be in a position to approve or block any betting markets they considered to be a threat to the league’s integrity.
While the league itself has gone on the record to back Prop 27, the players’ association MLBPA seems less enamored of the possibility of the measure passing. Executive Director of the MLBPA, Tony Clark, indicated that he hoped the harm reduction measures included in the bill would be effective, but mentioned that when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was struck down by the Supreme Court – a measure opposed by MLB at the time – it was mere hours before betting houses started following professional players on social media.
The MLB is the first of the major sporting leagues to announce its support for any of the measures at the ballot. There are five California-based teams in the league, including the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. The state is also home to clubs in the NFL, NHL and NBA as well as Major League Soccer, all of which leagues have yet to make any statement on the prospective legislation ahead of the vote. Whether the MLB’s statement will spark any action on this front remains to be seen as of this moment.