Nearly $400 million was spent on California's campaign to legalize sports betting


The Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, California. Eric Risberg/Associated Press, File

LOS ANGELES — A campaign that could bring legalized sports betting to California is the most expensive ballot initiative battle in U.S. history at nearly $400 million, and it has pitted wealthy Native American tribes against online gambling companies and less wealthy tribes. It is made to fight against what is expected. A multi-billion dollar market.

A torrent of advertising has plagued Californians for months. Many of them promise far more than hefty returns from gaming betting.Some ads from consortia of gambling companies barely mention online gambling.

Instead, the ad hints at a treasure trove of profits to be made from new revenues, such as helping the homeless, helping the mentally ill, and providing financial security to poor tribes who haven’t seen the windfall from casino gambling. . To further cloud the matter: the poll has two sports betting questions.

Skeptics include Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has not taken a position on either proposal, but said Proposition 27 “is not a homeless initiative,” despite claims in the ad. ing.

Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, said promises of “no good” have been used in the past to sell state lottery tickets as an endless source of funding for education. said. It’s political salesmanship and “not a panacea,” he said.

More than $400 million has been collected so far due to the high stakes. This is a national record for fighting for voting initiatives and nearly double the previous mark set in California in 2020. He has seven weeks left until voting closes on his November 8th.

“Billions are at stake, so they’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Steven Maviglio, a longtime Democratic consultant. Mentioned potential future profits from gambling.

“Both sides stand to be really rich in the long run,” said Maviglio, who was not involved in the campaign. can be the source.

It can all be a bad bet.

With the midterm elections approaching, voters are in a bad mood and cynical about political pitches. Similarly, history suggests that with two proposals on the ballot, voters tend to get confused and pull the “no” lever on both proposals.

“When in doubt, people vote against it,” Pitney said.

California allows gambling at horse races, Indian casinos, card rooms and state lotteries. However, the state lags behind in sports betting, which is widespread across the country.

These two proposals pave the way for sports betting, but in very different ways.

Proposition 27 is backed by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel (the latter being the official odds provider for The Associated Press), and other domestic sports betting operators. This proposal would change state law to allow online sports betting for adults over the internet, phone and other mobile devices.

Multi-state operators must be affiliated with tribes involved in gambling. Alternatively, licensed tribes can enter on their own. However, the tribes argue that they must give up some of their independence to reach an agreement. Assigned to tribes not involved in gambling.

A rival proposal supported by many tribes, Proposition 26 allows direct betting on sporting events at tribe-operated casinos and the state’s four licensed racetracks. A portion of the 10% tax will go toward the cost of enforcing gambling laws and programs to help gambling addicts. It could also pave the way for roulette and dice games at Tribal Casino.

A small political committee is at the center of the battle, raising funds and dueling for public support.

A 26-for, 27-against committee sponsored by more than 20 Indian tribes has raised about $108 million so far this month, according to state records. Among the major donors are the Commonwealth Indians of Graton Rancheria ($30 million), the Pechanga Band of Indians ($25 million) and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($20 million). All are enriched by their own casinos.

Another committee trying to void Proposition 27, supported by tribes including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, has raised about $91 million.

Their main rival, the 27-committee Yes backed by sports betting companies, generated about $169 million in loans and donations.

Backed by The Card Club, the committee against Proposition 26 has racked up more than $41 million for this fight. The proposal includes an enforcement change that the club deems an attempt to give the tribe a virtual monopoly at all games in the state.

Despite lofty claims about the state’s new revenue, it’s not clear what financial benefits either proposal will bring.

For Proposition 27, the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Analysts concluded that its impact on revenues and costs is uncertain. One reason for this is that we don’t know how many organizations offer betting or how many people place bets. It can bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

But offices also allow people to change their spending habits, such as sports betting instead of buying lottery tickets or shopping at malls, so some of their income isn’t new dollars. I concluded.

State analysts also found that the fiscal implications of competing Proposition 26 are unclear. One reason for this is that we do not know how state and tribal agreements will change to allow sports betting. They found that the proposal could increase state revenues by perhaps tens of millions of dollars each year, but it would also increase enforcement and regulatory costs.

The confusion of political support is mixed. California Republicans oppose both proposals. State Democrats oppose Proposition 27, but are neutral on Proposition 26. Major League Baseball supports Proposition 27.

Voters are witnessing a deluge of competing claims.

The No on 26 Committee sees wealthy tribes manipulating the system to gain unprecedented gambling income and political influence.

No on 27 Commission spokesman Rob Stutzman warned that up to 90% of profits from the proposal could go to gambling companies, saying, “A bill that is opposed by both Democrats and Republicans is bad news. ‘ he warned.

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