Democrats won’t back California sports betting initiative

California Sports Betting Initiatives

The major online betting ballot referendum in California may have the support of operators, but a major group of lawmakers will not be on its side.

The California Democratic Party (CADEM) Executive Board met earlier this month to review the party’s stance on the 31 different ballot initiatives on this fall’s ballot. The group approved backing 29 of them. They are taking a neutral stance on Proposition 26, the tribal-backed retail sports betting initiative.

The only measure they will actively oppose this election season is Proposition 27, the California sports betting initiative put forward by operators to legalize online betting in the state.

Some individual Democrats endorse Prop 27

While the party will encourage its group of 10 million voters to vote no on the measure, individual Democrats are already listed as supporters.

The Yes on Prop 27 website lists both Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf as supporters. The two Democrats are joined by Republican Jerry Dyer, Mayor of Fresno.

Republicans have yet to issue voting recommendations on the propositions on the ballot.

There are several points of criticism around the measure. Some detractors do not like the idea of corporations outside of California coming in to take over the betting market. Others find the marketing around the proposition, which places heavy emphasis on funding from sports betting to help fund mental health and homelessness measures, disingenuous.

Given the relatively paltry money that has gone to local causes tied to measures in other states, such as the water initiative in Colorado, have actually not translated to many tax dollars for the state, it is unsurprising lawmakers think a measure pushed by operators themselves would not translate to the impact it suggests.

CA Democrats neutral on tribal betting push

The ambiguous response to the other sports betting push on the ballot has a whole other set of concerns generally unrelated to the operator California sports betting initiative.

RL Miller, a delegate for the California Democratic Party who voted on these stances, posted on Twitter about some of the issues around Prop 26:

The conflict between tribal casinos and card rooms is at the heart of just about every disagreement related to gambling expansion in the state. Tribes and unions are two important voting blocs, so the party is remaining agnostic regarding the measure.

Proposition 26, which gained enough signatures to make the ballot earlier in the year than Prop 27, already has a robust list of politicians supporting the measure. The most notable name on the list is Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat.

FanDuel CEO Howe bullish on California sports betting initiative

Speaking at SBC Summit North America last week, FanDuel CEO Amy Howe remained optimistic about the measure’s chances in the state, despite the setback from CADEM.

“Well, as a resident of California, I’m very cautiously optimistic that this referendum is going to pass. The way this has been set up and “architected, I think there’s a win-win on many levels. Despite what you might see on TV, the reality of this is that the Californian solutions for homelessness and mental health will generate more revenue than any other initiative ever has, for homelessness, in particular, but for both causes.”