Homelessness numbers are on the rise in California. One sports betting measure up for a vote this November includes a provision to combat that trend.
Prop. 27 earmarks 85% of California sports betting tax revenue for homelessness and mental health programs. It’s backed by FanDuel and DraftKings, among others, and would legalize online sports betting in the Golden State.
A number of non-profit organizations in the homeless space attack the crisis every day. One of them, SHELTER, Inc., has enthusiastically thrown its support behind the proposition.
CA online sports betting initiative would provide guaranteed funding
Like most non-profits, SHELTER, Inc., gets much of its funding from grants and donations. These have no set annual amount and can vary for a variety of reasons.
That’s one of the reasons the agency supports Prop. 27. Guaranteed revenue from sports betting would ensure one substantial source of funding each year.
In an exclusive quote given to PlayCA, SHELTER, Inc., Chief Executive Officer John Eckstrom said:
“Homelessness has increased in Contra Costa County by 35% over the last three years. The funds generated by Prop. 27 will provide stable revenue to help our continuum of care develop more housing models and the supportive services that lead to long-term housing stability. We can’t solve homelessness without more units of housing.”
SHELTER, Inc., is located just outside Northern California’s Bay Area. Founded in 1986 in Concord (about a half-hour northeast of Oakland), the organization has recently expanded to two other counties. It runs several shelters, one of which is located in the state capital of Sacramento.
In 2020, SHELTER, Inc., brought in $16.4 million in revenue. Nearly 90% of that total came from grants, contracts and donations. It spent $15.9 million that year, with 90% going to the agency’s program services which help local homeless and at-risk families and individuals.
Opinions for and against Prop. 27
According to the group Yes on 27, more than 160,000 Californians are homeless. Meanwhile, one in six Californians experiences mental illness.
The group says Prop. 27 would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for homeless and mental health services. In addition to SHELTER, Inc., it counts a number of agencies and task forces around the state as supporters of the measure.
Opponents of the measure say the process has been driven by out-of-state corporations that would escalate underage and problem gambling. The Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming says gambling addiction is a significant factor in the homeless cycle. It adds that the State Lottery, marketed as a solution to California’s education funding gap, has “failed to live up to the promise.”
The Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming is sponsored by California Indian tribes that are behind a competing initiative. Prop. 26 would legalize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racing venues. That measure allows tribal casinos to offer craps and roulette and bans wagering on California’s college sports teams.