More than $400 million has gone into telling Californians how to vote on two measures on the Nov. 8 ballot — Props. 26 and 27 — that would legalize betting on sporting events.
The blitz of TV and social media ads can be overwhelming and confusing. Here’s a look at what each measure would do.
Why are voters being asked to legalize sports betting?
Because lawmakers couldn’t do it. Negotiations in the state legislature to set up a legal sports betting framework fizzled in 2020, two years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that outlawed most sports wagers.
What’s the main difference between Props. 26 and 27?
Prop. 26 would allow in-person betting at tribal casinos and four horse racetracks, including Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles County. Betting at racetracks would be limited to those 21 and older, while the minimum age to bet on sports at casinos would be hammered out in renegotiations of tribal-state gaming compacts.
Prop. 27 would allow anyone 21 and older to make online bets through a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Both measures would put limits on wagers. For instance, both would outlaw bets on high school games.
What else would Prop. 26 do?
Besides in-person bets, Prop. 26 would let tribal casinos offer roulette and dice games such as craps.
The measure also lays the groundwork for tribes or other private parties to sue cardrooms for alleged violations of state gaming laws. For years, tribes and cardrooms have clashed over how cardrooms offer games such as poker.
Why do Prop. 27 ads keep talking about homelessness?
Under Prop. 27, money from betting would go to a dedicated fund to help homeless people.
Prop. 27 backers say the measure would raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually for homeless services. Opponents counter that, under Prop. 27, out-of-state sportsbooks would pocket 90% of the money from betting.
Why am I seeing so many ads about Prop. 27?
There’s lots of money being spent on Prop. 26 as well. But Isaac Hale, an assistant politics professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles, said defeating Prop. 27 is a higher priority for the tribes.
If sports wagers are legalized in the Golden State, California would become the largest sports betting market in the U.S. according to the American Gaming Association.
Which ballot measure is more likely to pass?
At this point, neither. Polling shows well under half of likely California voters backing either measure.
Dueling sports betting measures in ‘uphill climb’ ahead of Election Day, poll finds
Here’s who’s on the Nov. 8 ballot in Riverside County
Here’s who’s on Nov. 8 ballot in San Bernardino County, Pomona and Claremont
Why California cardrooms say Prop 26 threatens their future
Prop 26 & 27: Fact checking ads for California’s sports betting propositions
What happens if both pass?
Props. 26 and 27 could coexist, according to Prop. 27 backers.
Prop. 26 supporters disagree, and if a judge sides with them, the measure with the most votes could be the one that’s enacted, Hale said. Otherwise, if both measures pass, we could have a world in which gamblers can place bets online and at casinos and racetracks.
What happens if both fail?
We could see both sides go back to voters in future years. For example, backers of a 2024 ballot measure that would allow tribes to offer online sports bets are gathering signatures. Or it’s possible they strike a compromise and avoid the ballot box altogether.