Democrats Come Out Against California Online Sports Betting Proposal

Written By David Danzis on July 11, 2022 - Last Updated on August 2, 2022

The dominant political party in California is opposing a November ballot initiative that would legalize online sports gambling.

The executive board of the California Democratic Party voted to formally oppose Proposition 27. The proposal would amend the state constitution to permit online California sports betting. It requires online gaming operators to partner with tribal casinos and dedicates a set percentage of revenue to homelessness and mental health services.

CDP’s board decided to remain neutral on a competing initiative, Proposition 26, which would allow tribal casinos and select racetracks to offer in-person sports wagering. Prop. 26 would also allow Native American casinos in California to offer roulette and dice games.

Democrats come out against CA online sports betting

According to state data, there are nearly 10.2 million registered Democrats in the Golden State. Democrats outnumber registered Republicans almost 2-to-1.

“Today the California Democratic Party overwhelmingly voted to oppose Prop. 27,” said CDP Chairman Rusty Hicks in a statement. “We stand with California’s Native American tribes and reject this threat to their tribal sovereignty. Together, we can send a clear message to out-of-state corporations who seek to exploit California’s initiative process for their own gain.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s top Democrat, has not publicly commented on either of the sports betting ballot measures. The state’s General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

No sure bet in politics

Prop. 27, formally known as the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act, is backed by major online gambling companies, such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, who have put close to $100 million into the campaign.

A spokesperson for the online measure noted that political party support does not always translate to Election Day victory. Four of the 11 ballot measures supported by the state Democratic party in 2020 failed in the voting booth.

Nathan Click, the group’s public relations representative, said Prop. 27 is gaining support.

“Californians across the political spectrum support our measure because it’s the only one that provides hundreds of millions of dollars in solutions to homelessness, mental health, and addiction, and it’s the only one that supports small and disadvantaged tribes,” Click said.

Dems and tribes standing together against California’s online sports betting question

A coalition of tribal leaders backing Prop. 26 contend the online option would lead to an increase in problem gambling behavior and underage exposure.

“By opposing Prop 27, California Democrats rejected out-of-state corporations and reaffirmed their commitment to California’s Indian tribes,” said Reid Milanovich, tribal chairman, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, said in a statement Sunday. “Prop 27 is not a solution to anything. It would expose children to a massive expansion of gambling and turn every cell phone, gaming console, tablet and laptop into a gambling device. Prop 27 is a direct attack on tribal gaming and Indian self-reliance.”

Of the 30 states currently allowing legal, regulated sports gambling, 20 states and Washington D.C. permit residents to do so online or via a mobile device.

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David Danzis

David Danzis is a lead writer and analyst for CatenaMedia's network of Play sites, appearing on PlayNJ, PlayCA and PlayOH. He is a New Jersey native and an honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. After years of reporting on Atlantic City casinos, NJ online gambling and sports betting, his focus is now on emerging gaming markets. David lives in NJ with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers, and Knicks.

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