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Several Legislative Leaders Publicly Oppose California Online Sports Betting Initiative

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Aug 12, 2022 · 7:51 AM PDT

Aug 3, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Juan Soto (22) is congratulated in the dugout after scoring a run during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Several legislative leaders across both parties publicly voiced opposition to the California online sports betting initiative
  • The Senate and House of Representatives leaders oppose taking revenues away from California tribes
  • No comments were made about the tribal retail sports betting initiative

Sides are being drawn in California’s upcoming fight for sports betting, as several state legislative leaders recently came out in opposition of Proposition 27, a ballot initiative to legalize California online sports betting for operators partnered with state tribes.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D – Lakewood), Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D – San Diego), Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R – Nicolaus) and Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R – Santa Clarita) released a joint statement earlier in the week condemning Proposition 27 and its support of out-of-state sports betting companies.

More Opposition to Proposition 27

The comments were released by the “Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming,” a tribal-backed organization that opposes Prop 27.

“Prop 27 eliminates the sovereign right of California tribes to operate gaming in California. They have proven to be excellent stewards of this responsibility,” Wilk said in the released statement. “We should protect this tribal right, which has also benefited all Californians.”

Rendon urged voters to not support Proposition 27 in the statement, saying the state should not aid out-of-state companies over California tribes.

“I am concerned that Prop 27 sends sports betting revenues to out-of-state corporations who wrote the measure to maximize their profits. Californians should vote No on 27 and support California tribes over out-of-state corporations,” he said.

Political Leaders Join California Democrats, Teachers Opposing Prop 27

The political leaders joined a growing coalition of California politicians and groups to oppose the “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act,” the sports betting company-backed online sports betting measure.

Prop 27 calls for a 10% tax on online sports betting, with 85% of tax revenues going to programs to help solve homelessness and those that support mental health. The remaining 15% of the tax revenues would be earmarked for California tribes not partnered with an operator.

The four top California Democrats and GOP lawmakers joined the California Democratic Party in their opposition of the online sports betting initiative. In June, the California Democratic Party Resolutions Committee unanimously voted to oppose the proposition.

The resolutions committee noted it neither supports or opposes the “Tribal Sports Wagering Act,” a tribal-backed retail sports betting measure, as it voted to remain neutral on the issue. The retail sports betting measure will be known as “Proposition 26” on the upcoming ballot.

Democrats are the leading political party in California, with more than 46% of registered voters compared with 24.1% of voters registering as Republicans.

Earlier this week, the California Federation of Teachers and the Association of California School Administrators also voted to officially oppose Prop 27. They joined the California Teachers Association in opposition of the online sports betting proposition.

“Cell phones and mobile devices have become a way of life for even our youngest children. Proposition 27 would turn virtually every cell phone, laptop and tablet into a gambling device giving youth unprecedented access to gambling at their fingertips,” said Erin M. Simon, President of the Association of School Administrators, in a released statement. “Our communities should be focused on protecting children and the danger Proposition 27 poses for youth cannot be understated.”

Prop 27 Supported By Several Smaller California Tribes

Despite the opposition, Prop 27 does have its supporters. Several smaller California tribes have publicly endorsed the online sports betting initiative.

The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, and the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe all released public statements in favor of the online sports betting initiative, praising the measure as a way for smaller, disadvantaged tribes to bolster their economic standing.

“The Solutions Act would be life-changing for our people,” said Philip Gomez, Chair of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, in a released statement.  “For too long, rural and economically disadvantaged Tribes like ours have struggled to provide for our people. This measure would provide us with economic opportunities to fortify our Tribe’s future for generations to come.”

Chairman Jose “Moke” Simon of the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians said in a release statement that the online sports betting initiative would put tribes in control of online sports betting in California.

Prop 27 would allow every tribe a chance to benefit from online sports betting, he said, and protects tribal sovereignty in the state.

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