First No On Prop 26 Commercial From Cardrooms Focuses On Exposing Kids To Sports Betting

Written By Matthew Kredell on September 22, 2022

Californians have been inundated with sports betting commercials over Proposition 27 leading up to the November election. Finally, there is one commercial on Proposition 26.

It doesn’t come from supporters of Prop 26, but the cardrooms leading the opposition campaign.

Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies began airing the ad this week on broadcast TV after starting it out two weeks ago on cable TV.

Yes on 26 has yet to put out a commercial in favor of their own initiative. Instead, the campaign focuses on defeating Prop 27.

No on 26 ad goes for underage gambling scare tactic

The first No on 26 ad doesn’t focus on the clause in the proposition that California cardrooms see as a threat. Instead, it warns of the dangers of sports betting to kids.

Titled “Mom,” the commercial starts with a woman talking in her home. Here’s what she says:

“As a mom, I worry about my kids. More and more young people are getting hooked on sports betting. Prop 26 would lead to a massive expansion in sports betting, enticing our kids and leading to more gambling addiction, drug abuse and crime. One of the tribal casinos bankrolling Prop 26 regularly allows underage gambling and nothing in Prop 26 stops underage gamblers from betting on sports in a tribal casino. Vote no on Prop 26.”

Interestingly, the ad is very similar to a commercial just put out by the Yes on 26/No on 27 campaign. That commercial also features a mom saying to “please join moms across California” in voting no on Prop 27.

Explaining accusation against tribal casino

When the ad claims that one of the tribal casinos bankrolling Prop 26 regularly allows underage gambling, up on the screen pops “Source: Barona Resort & Casino Website.”

Upon inquiry from PlayCA, the No on 26 campaign explained this referred to Barona having a minimum gambling age of 18 rather than 21 at their casinos.

The minimum age to gamble at a tribal casino in California is 18. However, most tribal casinos set the age to 21 so they can serve alcohol on the casino floor.

Barona and some California tribal casinos choose to limit alcohol sales to on-property restaurants so they can lower the minimum gambling age. The California Lottery also has a minimum age of 18.

Kathy Clenney, general counsel to the Barona Band of Mission Indians, provided PlayCA with a response to the ad:

“This is more deception from the cardroom casinos. You must be an adult to gamble at any Indian casino in California. It shouldn’t be surprising that the cardrooms are deceiving voters. They have a horrible track record of money laundering, drug trafficking and misleading and deceiving regulators. Unlike the cardrooms, all gambling at Barona is done in accordance with applicable state and federal law.”

Ad differs from cardroom campaign against Prop 26

Previously, representatives of cities that rely on cardroom revenue have said they had no problem with the sports betting aspect of Prop 26.

Their issue was a clause added into the initiative allowing tribes to weaponize the Private Attorneys General Act to sue cardrooms over the way they offer blackjack. They claim this could cause cardrooms to shut down, and many cities rely upon cardroom tax revenue for more than half of their city budgets.

“There are definitely better ways that the state can achieve sports betting than directly harming our residents and our cities that rely on the jobs, the public safety and the quality of life,” Bell Gardens Council Member Alejandra Cortez said at a May event in Commerce.

This argument served the No on 26 campaign well. The California Republican Party and many state newspapers have come out against Prop 26. The California Democratic Party stayed neutral on the measure.

Now they call Prop 26 a massive expansion in sports betting that will lead to more gambling addiction. It’s a lesson in what campaigns think registers with voters.

Photo by Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies
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Matthew Kredell

A fifth-generation Californian, Matthew's reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. After graduating from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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