LOS ANGELES – California voters subsequent month will resolve between two competing poll measures involving sports activities betting that might dramatically alter legalized playing within the state, a battle that underscores the have and have-not divide between the state’s native tribes.
The latest chapter of this long-standing divide comes greater than a yr after Arizona legalized on-line sports activities wagering. Now, California might observe swimsuit with Propositions 26 and 27 on the Nov. 8 poll.
Proposition 26 would enable in-person betting on skilled sports activities in 66 tribal-owned casinos and 4 racetracks in California. Moreover, it will enable tribes to supply extra Las Vegas-style video games, together with roulette and craps, not simply blackjack, bingo and slot machines
Proposition 27 would go a lot farther, permitting on-line betting. Gamblers may wager from their computer systems or smartphones, by no means setting foot in a on line casino. Though casino-owning tribes could be allowed to supply off-site betting, the true beneficiaries look like giant nationwide wagering issues, like DraftKings and FanDuel, that settle for bets from a rising variety of states, together with Arizona.
It’s unclear what would occur if each are accepted, a situation that might wind up being settled in a courtroom.
In 2021, Arizona grew to become the twenty third state to legalize on-line sports activities betting. In its first yr, Arizonans wagered greater than $5 billion, exceeding the expectations of many.
The dueling propositions have break up California tribes. The Sure on 26 marketing campaign touts help from greater than 50 tribes whereas alleging that the opposing camp, Sure on 27, has the help of simply three.
“This can be a skirmish in a bigger conflict,” mentioned Dan Walters, columnist for CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit state information group. “And it’s not in all probability going to be the top of the conflict. It’s in all probability simply going to proceed on in another kind it doesn’t matter what occurs this yr.”
In response to Walters, the proposition is one in every of many makes an attempt to handle playing in California since President Ronald Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
of 1988, which allowed federally acknowledged Native American tribes to function casinos on their very own lands.
There are 66 tribal casinos in 28 California counties, in response to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Workplace. Some, together with Pala Casino Spa Resort and Pechanga Resort Casino close to Temecula and Yaamava’ Resort & Casino in Highland, purpose to rival among the bigger hotel-casinos in Las Vegas.
As bigger casinos grew in recognition and fueled substantial native economies, Walters mentioned, tensions grew between tribes with casinos and people with out. For instance, smaller tribes in additional distant areas don’t have the identical benefits as tribes adjoining to main highways, he mentioned.
“Many of the tribes don’t profit from the Indian playing phenomenon,” Walters mentioned, “however the ones that do have the casinos (that) reap huge quantities of cash. There’s no query about that. They’re very worthwhile. And so you will have, primarily, a jealousy between the haves and the have-nots inside the Indian neighborhood.”
Patricia Martz, professor emerita at California State College, Los Angeles, mentioned a lot of this income already goes to the communities the place casinos are situated, however it additionally goes to neighboring tribes for such companies as housing, training and well being.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office studies that bigger tribal casinos give practically $150 million to smaller tribes that both don’t personal casinos or function casinos with fewer than 350 slot machines. Moreover, tribes paid about $65 million to help state regulation and playing habit applications.
Proposition 27 features a provision to boost income to cut back homelessness and increase psychological well being companies, however Martz mentioned the cash wouldn’t assist a lot and would take away a supply of funds tribes want to assist their members.
“The quantity that they (Proposition 27) would give actually doesn’t offset the hurt that the proposition would do,” Martz mentioned. “It appears to me it’s a no brainer that individuals are towards it.”
That time is being pushed as nicely by the Sure on 26, No on 27 marketing campaign.
“If 27 passes, it’s a extreme blow to tribal self-sufficiency,” spokesperson Kathy Fairbanks mentioned. “If it had been to cross, it will actually undercut tribes and their brick-and-mortar casinos and their skill to supply for his or her individuals. It might not be good.”
Regardless of a number of requests, the Sure on 27 marketing campaign didn’t reply for remark.
After reaching out to a number of casino-owning tribes for remark, Cronkite Information was unable to safe an interview or direct assertion in time for publication of this text.