NAACP Sues No On 26 Over California Sports Betting Ballot Argument

Written By Andrew Champagne on August 3, 2022 - Last Updated on October 18, 2022

The battle for California sports betting is underway, and it includes organizations with a nationwide footprint. One of them, in fact, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court to clarify its stance on Proposition 26. As a result, ballot language will be changed.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) clarified its support for Prop. 26 in the suit against No on 26, which was filed Tuesday. It says a statement that was initially present was false and misleading, and that it violated NAACP bylaws.

On Friday, the NAACP provided an update, saying No on 26 has agreed to remove this quote attributed to NAACP Los Angeles branch president emeritus Minnie Hadley-Hempstead:

“We oppose Prop 26 to protect young people from developing lifelong gambling addictions that often lead to ruined finances, relationships, even homelessness and crime.”

Prop. 26 is one of two California sports betting initiatives on the ballot this November. If passed, it would legalize in-person sports betting at California tribal casinos and California horse racing venues. Proposition 27, meanwhile, would legalize mobile sports betting across the Golden State.

The NAACP’s stance on California sports betting

The NAACP simultaneously endorsed Prop. 26 and denounced Prop. 27 in May. It did so while stating that its support for the Tribal Sports Wagering Act “is consistent with the long-standing position for disenfranchised communities of color to become self-sufficient.”

It added that its opposition to Prop. 27 was motivated by concerns about problem gambling. The organization also cited the lack of financial support for African Americans and people of color in the initiative.

Rick Callendar, Esq., president of the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP, added more in Tuesday’s release:

“NAACP is proud to stand with California Indian Tribes in strong support of Prop 26 to help preserve and further Indian self-reliance. We are outraged that the card room casinos and their No on 26 campaign would deceptively use the NAACP name in its arguments despite our strong support.”

The No on 26 campaign released a statement Friday in response to the new developments:

“Californians from across the state have been clear with their objections to Prop 26, which includes a poison pill that will unfairly harm communities of color. We appreciate and respect Ms. Hadley-Hempstead and will honor her wishes to remove her previously approved quote from the ballot statement.”

NAACP joins the battle between tribes and card rooms

Language within Prop. 26 allows tribes to directly sue card rooms over alleged violations of California gaming laws. Some against the measure say card rooms being threatened in this way would also threaten money received by local municipalities for various community programs.

Callendar, though, voiced his firm opposition to card room practices in Tuesday’s release:

“The cardroom casino operators responsible for the deceptive No on 26 campaign have a well-documented and deplorable track record of flouting the law. They’ve been fined millions for violating anti-money laundering laws, misleading regulators, and even illegal gambling. We are suing to prevent their misleading statements from appearing in the voter information guide sent to tens of millions of voters.”

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Andrew Champagne

Andrew Champagne is a former content manager at Catena Media, as well as an award-winning writer and producer. A passionate storyteller, Andrew boasts a career that has included stints at The Daily Racing Form, TVG Network, and HRTV. Born and raised in upstate New York, Andrew now resides in Northern California's Bay Area. You can often find him handicapping horse races, planning his next trip to Las Vegas, bowling reasonably well, and golfing incredibly poorly.

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