Sports betting on the ballot in California: Props 26 and 27

California voters see two sports betting proposals in Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 this election cycle.

Collectively, nearly $600 million has been raised in opposition and support. Both would change the state constitution to allow sports betting in California.

Proposition 26 would introduce dice games such as roulette and personal sports betting in tribal casinos. It would also allow sports betting at four California race tracks, including Del Mar.

“People betting must show ID,” said Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Yes on 26, No on 27 campaign. “Someone will check their ID and make sure they are adults, following the law and gambling legally.”

Fairbanks represents a coalition of business groups and more than 50 California tribes. From San Diego County, the Barona Band of Mission Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation are among those who contributed to the campaign. According to Prop. 26 tribes would have to work with the state to determine government payouts and racetracks would pay 10% of daily bets, minus payouts.

“The independent, unbiased legislative analyst says Prop. 26 will result in tens of millions of dollars going into California’s treasury to fund state priorities such as education, transportation and even homelessness efforts,” Fairbanks said.

A majority of those profits would go into the general fund of the states, with the rest split between gambling programs and compliance. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office said in its analysis of Prop’s potential earnings. 26: “The magnitude of this increase is uncertain, but could reach tens of millions of dollars a year.”

Proposition 27 would legalize online sports betting for tribes and online gambling companies. Those companies would have to partner with a tribe to get a license. It is backed by gambling companies such as Fanduel and Draftkings, along with a few smaller tribes in Northern California.

“Twenty-five other states have legalized online sports betting,” said Nathan Click, spokesperson for the Yes on 27 campaign. “They prove that you can do this safely and responsibly and create real revenue for states.”

Under Prop. 27, 10% of gambling profits would go to a fund to tackle homelessness, with a smaller portion of that distributed among tribes without casinos.

“The state’s independent auditor reviews every initiative that comes its way,” Click said. “They found that Prop. 27 alone would raise hundreds of millions each year that would go directly to homeless people and mental health.”

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office said in its analysis of Prop’s potential earnings. 27: “The increase could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but probably won’t exceed $500 million a year.”

Prop. 27 is supported locally by Tamera Kohler, the CEO of San Diego’s Regional Task Force on Homelessness.

“I support whatever it takes to get committed, committed funding on an ongoing basis,” Kohler said. “This funding is also not just for supporting housing solutions, but also for mental health, behavioral health, treatment support and most importantly housing.”

If Prop. 26, that would mean a sportsbook can be opened at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. President and Chief Operating Officer Josh Rubinstein said his organization supports the move. He thinks that year-round sports betting would help horse races and increase tax revenues.

“In terms of foot traffic for these local businesses — you might think of busy events like the Super Bowl and Final Four — that would translate to extra business for North San Diego County,” Rubinstein said.

Voters have been hammered with online and television advertising of both theses. Still, a UC Berkeley-LA Times survey earlier this month found the measures were less than 50%. Another poll released this week by ABC 10 News and the San Diego Union Tribune reports that 37% of those polled for Prop. 26 would vote and 27% for Prop. 27. Both require a simple majority to pass.

“The priority of the tribe from day one – since [Prop.] 27 showed up — was to beat that measure,” Fairbanks said. “So we’re looking at the poll results in a positive light because our number one priority is being met.”

Click with the Yes on 27 campaign said they are fearless.

“The voters I speak to fully understand that we need a solution to homelessness,” he said. “They support online sports betting and it’s a win-win situation for the state of California.”

For more information and who else supports the proposals, visit the KPBS Voter Hub.

Leave a Comment