In the upcoming midterms, California voters will address the legality of various forms of gambling when they vote on Propositions 26 and 27. While Proposition 26 encompasses in-person sports wagering, die games, and roulette on tribal casinos, Proposition 27 addresses the legality of online sports betting across the state. The two interlinked propositions thus move together and have the ability to impose great changes across the state of California which has traditionally banned sports betting and other gambling outlets.
Currently, California has some of the strictest gambling laws in the nation, prohibiting many traditional gambling practices, such as die games, roulette, and sports betting. Native American Tribes, however, retain the right to self-governance and can therefore offer gambling after they make individual compacts with the state. This has allowed them to offer a limited range of gambling practices, while gambling remains illegal everywhere else in the state.
Proposition 26, largely funded and promoted by tribal casino owners, allows Native American tribes to expand their gambling offerings via in-person sports betting and other currently banned practices, while remaining the only legal gambling sites in the state. The legalization of these offerings would allow tribes to acquire more favorable agreements with the state. Bettors could then do in-person betting and gambling at racetracks and tribal locations only.
Proposition 27, on the other hand, would legalize online and mobile sports betting throughout the state, without affecting any other current legislation. This measure, largely backed by out-of-state gambling corporations, would allow agencies outside of tribal casinos to offer sports betting to California consumers. The state would tax these transactions, and sports betting would join the few other legal gambling practices that currently exist, and be legal even outside of tribal casinos.
With the propositions either benefiting or devastating various gambling agencies, supporters of each proposition have disseminated an endless stream of advertisements to convince Californians to vote their way. Groups including, but not limited to, gambling companies, card rooms, and separate coalitions of Native American tribes have poured nearly 440 million dollars into campaigns for or against both propositions,
Yet, according to a poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies, both propositions look as though they are moving toward rejection. Though both propositions must achieve a simple majority, Only 31 percent of polled voters supported proposition 26, while 27 percent of polled voters supported prop 27, leaving both propositions in a poor position six weeks before the elections.
Regardless, time will tell the fate of these two propositions, and as Californians cast their votes in this year’s general elections, the future of gambling is in their hands.
(Sources: Legislative Analyst’s Office of California, California Secretary of State, KTLA, Cal Matters)