As the days tick down towards voting day in November, the competing propositions for legalized sports betting in California received a blow from local media. An editorial in the LA Times stated that both propositions were lacking in significant ways, and concluded that neither should pass when the state goes to the polls.
The editorial stated that both bills offered more risks than benefits to the state of California and stated that, if the Golden State is ever to legalize sports betting, it should not take the forms suggested in either bill. Both 26 and 27, it concluded, blatantly pick winners and losers whether those be the tribal entities concerned with administering sports betting, or the providers looking to deliver online betting in the state.
For clarity, Proposition 26 offers to give operating rights to tribal casinos and thoroughbred racetracks in the state. It would also allow non-card-based casino games in tribal casinos. Proposition 27 for its part would give rights to commercial betting operators and tribal entities. Both propositions have had their devotees and their critics, including tribal authorities who are divided on which bill, if any, should be the basis for future betting in California.
The Times, in its editorial, argued that neither proposition delivered what its backers claimed, including on the suggestion that it would take back revenue lost to illegal betting with offshore providers. Those offshore providers would remain out of reach of the tax authorities, meaning that they could deliver better offers to customers, which the Times believes would ensure that people continued to bet with them.
The commentary also cast doubt on the claim that permitting sports betting would deliver much-needed funding for mental health and homelessness mitigation. While it would certainly generate some revenue, the article argues, it would not be a “game-changer”. At the same time, the provisions in Proposition 26 could lead to lawsuits against currently-legal cardroom casinos in the state, and that animal rights groups have raised issues over the involvement of racetracks in the provision of sports betting.
There is little clear information at this point on the likelihood of success for either bill, although it is understood that both propositions are on a knife edge. Both could pass, and it’s also possible that neither one will. If both do pass, then it is understood that whichever one passes with a higher margin of the vote will be the one that is given precedence. With that said, if Prop 27 is the more popular bill with voters, most of the provisions in Prop 26 could still go into effect anyway. Should 26 be more popular, there is a chance that tribal entities could challenge the passage of 27 in court, arguing that the two bills are in conflict.
In any case, it must be said that the coming weeks are likely to deliver more disagreement and division, and everyone concerned will be hoping that whatever happens at the polls, it brings an end to what has been an often unedifying debate.