LOS ANGELES (AP) — The effort to legalize sports betting in California has met with a typical challenge for competing ballot measures, each beaten in a torrent of negative publicity that doomed both to spectacular failure in the most expensive ballot race in US history.
Whenever voters are faced with two conflicting measures, they tend to reject both, said Professor David McCuan, chair of the political science department at Sonoma State University.
“Anytime we have dueling voting metrics and the contestants have an arsenal of dollars…the contestants will go nuclear. And in a nuclear war everyone loses,” McCuan said. “The most powerful money in California politics is on the ‘no’ side of ballot measures.”
The result was a sticking out at the polls for both.
With around 5.5 million votes counted on Thursday, more than 80% of voters rejected a gambling industry effort that would have allowed online and telephone betting on sports. A measure backed by Native American tribes that would have allowed gamblers to place sports bets at tribal casinos and four racetracks was opposed by 70% of voters.
But Tuesday’s election result is not a doomsday scenario for sports betting in California. With what could be a multi-billion dollar market in the nation’s most populous state, there is simply too much at stake for supporters to give up.
More than 30 other states now allow sports betting, but Californians are limited to slots, poker and other games at Native American casinos, and wagering at racetracks, card rooms and the American lottery. State.
Becky Harris, Distinguished Fellow of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the legalization of sports gambling is inevitable, but it’s too early to tell how it will play out in California.
After the United States Supreme Court authorized sports betting in 2018, states such as West Virginia and New Jersey quickly legalized and established a regulatory structure while others such as Massachusetts took several years to complete. work it out legislatively, Harris said.
“I think sports betting is imminent, but the implication that the Legislature chooses to get involved is yet to be determined because voters clearly don’t like what they’re seeing so far,” Harris said.
Supporters of both measures said they were reassessing how to bring sports betting to the Golden State and would not discuss whether they would seek a legislative route or appeal directly to voters again.
The Online Betting Support Campaign reaffirmed its commitment to growing sports betting in California.
“This campaign underscored our determination to see California follow more than half the country in legalizing safe and responsible online sports betting,” the Yes on 27 campaign said in a statement. “California deserve the benefits of a safe, accountable, regulated and taxed online sports betting market, and we are committed to making it happen here.”
Jacob Mejia, vice president of public affairs at Pechanga, which owns a large casino and backed the initiative to allow sports betting in tribal casinos, said he believed the outcome was not a rejection of sports betting, but an “epic repudiation of online gaming”. and online sports betting.
The Pechanga tribe was among the group that launched Proposition 26 after several legislative efforts to allow sports betting in Sacramento failed. But the coalition of tribes supporting the measure quickly changed course to kill Proposition 27, the counter-proposal of online gambling interests, and did not buy ads supporting its own proposal, Mejia said.
“The tribes saw this as the greatest threat to their self-sufficiency in a generation,” he said. “These out-of-state operators tried to pass off Prop. 27 as a tribal solution for homelessness, when in fact it was neither.”
The attack ads said Proposition 27 would turn every cellphone, laptop and tablet into a gambling device. They said it could not be adequately monitored to prevent children from betting and raised fears of the creation of a generation of drug addicts.
Opponents of Proposition 26, led mostly by cardrooms who stood to lose any type of sports betting, said the measure would increase the power of wealthy tribes and give them a virtual monopoly on gambling in the state. . The measure would also have allowed casinos to offer roulette and craps.
Both measures promised to bring benefits to the state through tax revenue. Proponents of Proposition 27 have touted funds that would go to help the homeless, the mentally ill and poorer tribes excluded from the casino windfall. Proponents of Proposition 26 said a 10% tax would fund enforcement of gambling laws and support programs to help drug addicts.
Going back to the Legislature to find a solution would likely force wealthy tribes to sit down with their smaller peers, racetrack operators and haters who operate card rooms and those who want to expand betting to mobile devices.
Powerful tribes have the same online gaming concerns as casino operators on the Las Vegas Strip, said Harris, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Casinos contribute to economic development and have significant investments in operations that would be jeopardized if bettors could simply gamble on their phones or at home.
The solution in Nevada was to require sports bettors to create an account in person at a casino before betting on that house’s sports betting app.
Proposition 27 would have allowed tribal casinos to also set up online betting, but it would also have allowed the biggest national sports betting operators to get a piece of the action by partnering with a tribe.
It remains to be seen whether the disparate groups that have fought over the campaign’s ballot proposals can come to a consensus.
“There’s a lot of baggage between all these different stakeholders,” Harris said. “If there is going to be any form of mobile betting in the state of California, it would have to come to the tribes.”
Of the approximately $460 million raised for and against the two measures, around $170 million was intended to support the online sports gambling initiative backed by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel – the latter of which is the official odds provider for the ‘Associated Press – as well as other national sports betting operators and some tribes.
A coalition of tribes behind the No of 27 committee raised $116 million for their defeat. The Yes on the 26th, No on the 27th committee of other tribes raised $128 million, most of it against the online measure, Mejia said.
Two groups funded primarily by cardrooms have raised $44 million to attack Proposition 26.
Massive fundraising more than doubled the previous record in 2020 that helped Uber, Lyft and other app-based transportation and delivery services to prevent drivers from becoming eligible employees for benefits and job protection.
With huge spending on TV ads at sporting events, on social media and in campaign mailings, voters are often embittered during campaigns, McCuan said.
“What California voters object to is the vulgarity of having campaign ads thrown at every turn,” he said. “It has this reaction effect.”
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