More than $57.2 million in sports bets were placed across the country in 2021 - an astonishing record that comes after the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized sports betting in 2018.
Thirty-five states, and the District of Columbia, legalized sports betting. California could join them if voters approve either Proposition 26 or 27.
Proposition 26 would allow in-person sports betting at racetracks and tribal casinos for people over 21. Prop 26 would also allow Native American tribal casinos to offer additional gambling, such as roulette and dice games. The prop would require racetracks to pay the state 10 percent of all sports bets wagered each day. A portion of this state tax would go towards a new California Sports Wagering Fund. The fund would first go to education funding, with the remaining monies used towards gambling addiction programs and the enforcement of gambling laws.
Proposition 27 would legalize online and mobile sports betting for people 21 years of age and older. Licensed tribes operating casinos and gambling companies would be limited to state regulation. Like Prop 26, Prop 27 would require a 10 percent tax to be paid to the state each month. Tribes are required to pay $10 million dollars to receive a 5-year license to offer sports betting. All expenses paid to the state would create the California Online Sports Betting Trust Fund. The fund would set aside 85 percent of its funding to support homelessness and gambling addiction initiatives. Fifteen percent would go towards community development for tribes not operating casinos.
More than 60 Native American tribes have joined the coalition to support Prop 26, including the Barona and Pechanga Band of Indians. Major gaming corporations like FanDuel and DraftKings and some proponents of its homelessness measures support Prop 27. Recently, three Native American tribes also joined the “Yes on 27″ campaign, saying the prop would increase economic growth in their communities.
Supporters of both propositions say regulation is needed or sports betting will continue in illegal and unregulated markets if the measures are not approved by voters. They say California can benefit by managing the markets and by taxing sports betting revenues.
Both propositions would expand residents’ access to sports betting, which raises concern for state officials and residents alike. How will California address the increased risks of gambling addiction?
“By having more gambling you are going to have more public health costs. You’re going to have more addiction, potential harm, [and] bankruptcies,” said Timothy Fong, co-director of UCLA’s Gambling Studies Program. “Is our quality of life better in California because of having expanded and regulated gambling, or is there actually more cost because you have this product?”
Fong believes whether or not either measure is passed, it is necessary to lean on state agencies such as the Office of Problem Gambling, housed in the California Department of Public Health, with expertise in gambling disorder prevention and treatment.
“Even if these two propositions do not pass, it will not be the end of this discussion about sports betting in California,” Fong said. I would expect it to come back in future elections. Ultimately, I do feel strongly that it really should be managed well by a state agency.”
If both propositions pass, Proposition 26 will govern in-person sports betting, and Proposition 27 will regulate the online and mobile markets.