CA Cardrooms Ramp Up Prop 26 Opposition Ads In Final Weeks Before Election

Written By Matthew Kredell on October 28, 2022 - Last Updated on October 31, 2022

California cardrooms are running two new commercials opposing Prop 26 in the run-up to the Nov. 8 election, even though it appears the measure is headed toward defeat.

There hasn’t been the influx of new commercials around the California sports betting propositions that one might expect down the stretch. Both Prop 26 and Prop 27 have fizzled in the polls down the stretch, creating no need for campaign creativity.

The Public Policy Institute of California indicated this week that Prop 26 has support from only 34% of California voters surveyed. Prop 27 fares even more poorly, with 26% support.

But California cardrooms have stayed diligent in their desire to defeat Prop 26 with two new commercials that seem more true to their real issue with the initiative.

Both commercials highlight that Prop 26 would give tribes a way to go after their cardroom competitors.

Cardroom commercials against Prop 26

Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies, the No on 26 campaign sponsored by cardroom interests, introduced its second and third TV commercials.

The second commercial features a woman on screen talking alongside text highlighting her points. Here’s the transcript:

“Prop 26 is sponsored by five wealthy tribal casinos that made big profits staying open during COVID while their card club competition had to close. Now they want to expand their monopoly on gambling to include sports betting and put their competition out of business. Prop 26 would change state law allowing wealthy tribal casinos to bankrupt their competition with frivolous lawsuits. Vote no on Prop 26.”

A male voice narrates the third commercial as a list of newspapers opposing the Prop 26 scrolls. Here’s the transcript:

“Prop 26 is a massive expansion of gambling in California. It would give wealthy tribal casinos a virtual monopoly on sports betting. No wonder every major California newspaper opposes Prop 26. The LA Times calls Prop 26 ‘toxic’ and ‘a bad bet.’ The Orange County Register says ‘it’s a raw money grab’ that will give wealthy gaming tribes ‘tools to harass their long-time competitors.’ Vote no on Prop 26.”

Fact-checking the cardroom commercials

Both of these commercials seem more sincere regarding cardroom issues with Prop 26 than the first No on 26 advertisement. That first commercial had a mother warn of the dangers of sports betting to kids.

But cardrooms attempted to get sports betting in 2020 through the legislature. Then some cardroom interests backed a sports betting initiative that ended up not collecting signatures.

Then during stages of their campaign against Prop 26, local leaders said they didn’t oppose tribes having sports betting. They only opposed Prop 26 because of a clause that would amend the Private Attorneys General Act to allow tribes to take cardrooms to civil court.

Here’s a look at some of the claims in these ads.

Claim: Tribal casinos stayed open when cardrooms had to close during the pandemic.

Verdict: True. Cardrooms had to operate under state and local orders that kept them closed for months at the beginning of COVID. As sovereign governments, tribes made their own determinations on how to handle COVID. Many California tribal casinos open with enhanced safety measures while cardrooms were closed.

Claim: Tribes want to expand their monopoly on gambling to sports betting.

Verdict: Somewhat true. If tribes had a monopoly on gambling in California, then cardrooms, horse racing and the lottery wouldn’t exist. But tribes do have exclusivity over slot machines and house-banked games. Prop 26 would make tribes the dominant player in sports betting, but four horse racetracks also could participate.

Claim: Every major California newspaper opposes Prop 26.

Verdict: True. Most California newspapers have come out in opposition of both Prop 26 and Prop 27. This includes the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Orange County Register, San Jose Mercury News and San Diego Union-Tribune. The Times and Register quotes in the ad are accurate.

Photo by Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies
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