LA Times joins list of Prop 26 and 27 opponents

LA Times Prop 27
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While those in the gambling industry are positioning the battle for California sports betting as a matter of backing either Proposition 26 or Proposition 27, there are a growing list of entities in California that are advocating voters say no to both.

Democrats are agnostic on Prop 26 and against Prop 27, while the state GOP gave a firm no to both ballot measures. The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board agrees with California Republicans.

LA Times generally against California gambling expansion

In the op-ed from The Editorial Board, the paper seems to be generally against gambling period, repeatedly expressing concerns about online betting, noting, “[it] would essentially turn every cellphone, tablet, and computer into a legal casino where bets could be placed with a few taps on an app.”

While most other states trumpet the large handle bet on sports and the potential for those sums to translate into tax revenue for the state, the board took a more macro look at the concept.

“In just one month last year, sports gamblers wagered $7 billion — a 20-fold increase from three years earlier. That’s money they’re not spending in other parts of the economy, or worse, money they borrowed that they may not be able to pay back.”

LA Times Editorial Board

While the piece argues that the expansion of gambling creates a substantial amount of new problem gamblers, the American Gambling Association (AGA) has conducted research that indicates 90% of casual bettors set budgets and limits and stick to them. Even responsible gambling advocates within the industry concede the percentage of extreme gambling addicts in the population is relatively small. Nonetheless, most every states with regulated sports betting demand responsible gambling safeguards as part of being a regulated operator in the state.

As for the argument that legalizing sports betting would cut down on offshore and illegal gambling? The board is not buying it, noting that the regulation of marijuana in the state did little to cut down on the black market in that industry.

Prop 26 would create an unfair advantage for tribal casinos

Broad stance about gambling aside, the LA Times had issues with both Prop 26 and Prop 27 beyond just broadening the gambling offerings in the state.

The board applauded the limits of Prop 26, which would only allow land-based betting at tribal casinos. Like many critics though, the board finds the rules enhancing table game options at tribal casinos troubling. Even though Prop 26 is perceived as more favorable to in-state businesses, the group viewed that favorability as one-sided and unfair:

“The measure amounts to a toxic brew of industry interests designed not only to enrich the funders but also to push away their competitors. If California ever decides to embrace sports betting, it should be with a framework that is as evenhanded as possible, and not one that so blatantly picks winners and losers.”

The editorial also cited horse racing as a “cruel industry with waning public support” which would benefit from Prop 26 if it passes.

Prop 27 won’t impact homelessness as much as it suggests

As for Prop 27, like many other critics, the board does not believe the measure can do as much for homelessness as it claims. Last year, state lawmakers committed $13.5 billion to the issue, while revenues from sports betting through Prop 27 are estimated to tap out at $500 million annually.

The op-ed also cited UCLA Gambling Studies Program’s Professor Timothy Fong, who said he does not believe regulated sports betting is having much of an impact on curbing the offshore market so far.

For all these reasons and more, the LA Times Editorial Board is endorsing votes of “No” on both Prop 26 and 27.