California’s Voter Guide Gives Closer Look At Prop 26 And Prop 27

Written By Derek Helling on September 28, 2022
california voters guide prop 26 27

Californians have been inundated by messages from all possible avenues around Prop 27 on this year’s statewide ballot. The state just released its own information about both sports betting ballot measures for voters to consider in its California voters guide.

The guide gives a lot of analysis and background about Prop 26 and Prop 27. While the text of the guide is quite comprehensive, it’s only impactful if voters in the state actually take the time to read it.

California voter guide hits mailboxes around the state

Each election year, California’s Secretary of State compiles and distributes a guide to all the ballot measures and races statewide. It’s a print publication that goes to the addresses on file for every registered voter in California.

Voters around the state have started to receive the 2022 edition of the guide, as early voting starts in California on Oct. 11. The guide includes a lot of information on each of the seven ballot measures up for Californians’ consideration this year, including Prop 26 and Prop 27.

The sections for Prop 26 and Prop 27 include some of the same information that voters have been seeing in a barrage of commercials against and supporting Prop 27. The same goes for the comparatively few commercials addressing Prop 26.

What’s old news in the guide

The short form presentation of Prop 27 in the guide essentially highlights the basic tenets of the ballot measure. The guide states a yes vote on Prop 27 would provide funding “to homelessness programs (85%) and nonparticipating tribes (15%).”

The shorter synopsis on Prop 27 also points out that the state can expect up to $500 million in revenue from the activity annually, although it notes some of that money would be merely a shift in revenues as opposed to new dollars.

Prop 26’s more compact analysis mentions tribal authorities and their exclusivity over certain kinds of gambling in California. Ads opposing Prop 27 have painted that ballot measure as a challenge to that exclusivity, although messaging endorsing Prop 26 has been comparatively absent.

For voters who really want to understand both ballot measures as they consider their votes, there is a longer analysis of both propositions that is quite comprehensive.

Information about Prop 26 that voters aren’t getting in political ads

Conversations around both Prop 26 and Prop 27 in California have revealed some voters aren’t aware that both ballot measures involve sports betting. While Prop 26 covers much more territory than simply betting on sports, that’s really the meat of Prop 27.

The longer analysis of Prop 26 in the guide points out all the changes that could result from voters approving the measure. Those include:

  • Creation of a new enforcement mechanism for California gambling laws
  • Establishes a California Sports Wagering Fund that would allocate funds to support education in the state
  • Horse racing tracks could take bets on sports in-person
  • Tribal casinos would be able to add certain dice and roulette games in addition to physical sportsbooks

The section that is perhaps the most useful for voters is a list of arguments against and for voting yes on Prop 26. In that section, opponents and proponents state their positions but have more space to do as compared to a 15- or 30-second television ad.

In an argument for voting “no” on Prop 26, advocates point out how the measure would further consolidate control over gambling in California under the auspices of tribal casino operators. It frames Prop 26 as a threat to both the livelihoods of workers at California card rooms and the revenues of the cities that collect taxes from those card rooms.

The sections arguing for voters to defeat Prop 26 also point out how the state does not regulate tribal casinos. The argument there is an expansion of gambling at tribal casinos is bad because of the experiences of workers at those casinos.

“Prop 26’s sponsors have refused to allow their workers to join unions…and claimed they are not required to pay the state’s minimum wage.”

Arguments for a “yes” vote on Prop 26 do not refute the allegations of poor treatment of workers at tribal casinos. They do address the other points of criticism, however, and characterize card room operators as being associated with organized crime.

The rest of the story on Prop 27

Perhaps of foremost importance, the longer analysis of Prop 27 points out that the measure only authorizes online sports betting on non-tribal lands. It also points out that while Prop 27 proponents have painted the measure as a way to address homelessness in the state, the first priority for revenue from the 10% tax on sports betting win would be covering regulatory costs the state would incur.

Another detail is that the betting allowed under this proposal would have to run through tribal casino operators in one of two ways. Either such a tribal gaming authority would offer it themselves or contract with an online sportsbook operator like BetMGM or Caesars to do it for them. Companies like DraftKings or FanDuel could not go it alone in California under this provision.

Prop 27 would also create a new state agency to regulate online sports betting in the state. As with Prop 26, the arguments against and for Prop 27’s enactment reveal more perspectives.

On the proponent side, those arguments include funding for mental health treatment and annual audits of activity performed by the California attorney general’s office. The opposition arguments focus on ways it says the revenue online sports betting produces won’t actually combat homelessness.

“Buried in Prop 27 is a ‘promotional bets’ loophole. States that allow this same loophole have seen revenues fall far below what was promised.”

The 2022 California voters guide offers a lot of great information on both Prop 26 and Prop 27 that can help inform residents’ choices. Hopefully, many of the state’s voters will read it in order to make an informed decision in the coming weeks.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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