California Democrats’ Stance On Sports Betting Won’t Please Major Sportsbooks, Bettors

The California Democratic Party has taken positions on the two sports betting initiatives voters will see this fall. And like just about everything else related to the referendums, they took conflicting stands. 

The Executive Board of the California Democratic Party voted to remain neutral on Proposition 26, which would allow for sports betting at tribal casinos and select horse racing tracks in the state. 

The board, which represents the more than 10 million registered Democratic voters in the state, also voted to oppose Proposition 27. That measure is supported by major sportsbook operators and would bring mobile sports betting to the state. 

Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in the state. The recommendations from party leaders do not guarantee voters will follow suit; they are simply policy positions meant to offer guidance. 

The two propositions are among seven that qualified for the ballot. The others include contentious questions on abortion rights and a debate regarding zero-fuel emissions. 

At one point, the possibility existed of four different sports betting referendum questions on the November ballot. 

The other two potential questions failed to get the required number of signatures. The deadline for approval for one of the two, which would have authorized both mobile and retail sports betting, was yesterday. 

Prop 26 Allows For Tribal Control Of Sports Betting

The initiative brought forward by a number of tribes was placed on the Nov. 2022 ballot more than a year ago.  It does not allow for mobile sports betting. Instead, it allows for retail sports betting at the state’s tribal casinos and select racetracks. It has the support of many – but not all – of the tribes of the state. 

The party has not released a statement on its position, rather party members have screenshotted information about the votes

Democrats are seen as reluctant to oppose measures that could help improve tribal sovereignty. While many members may oppose sports betting in principle, it was not a surprise that the party came out as formally neutral on the issue. 

A number of young Democratic groups within the state, however, have come out and endorsed the measure. They are among the more than 90 supporting organizations listed on the primary webpage of the advocates. 

Prop 27 Allows For Mobile Sports Betting

The second question set to go before voters in November, which has the support of sportsbooks operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings, is Prop 27.  It would allow for mobile sports betting throughout the state, whether tied to tribal land or not.  

Supporters have linked the measure to a funding increase for homelessness and mental health issues. In fact, it is officially titled, “Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support.”

As written, 85% of the gross annual revenue would go toward funding the crisis. The additional 15% of the profits would go toward non-gaming tribes. 

Other Sports Betting Initiatives Failed To Qualify

Supporters of the two sports betting initiatives that did not garner enough signatures to make the ballot this fall have said they plan to move forward with their own ballot questions in 2024.

Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for the Protect Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming group, told Gaming Today earlier this year the group plans to put forward a referendum in two years

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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