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The future of sports gambling in California

A casino video board shows the lines for that day's sporting events.
A casino video board shows the lines for that day's sporting events. Photo by Baishampayan Ghose

With Election Day coming up on November 8, there are two propositions on this year’s California ballot proposing that sports gambling become legal.

Throughout the country, many states have been legalizing online gambling, specifically on professional and college athletics. More and more states seem to be opening their eyes and ears toward this idea.

Proposition 26 and 27 are the two that are going to determine the future of sports gambling in California. Prop. 26 would allow sports gambling at tribal casinos and racetracks, while Prop. 27 would allow online sports gambling anywhere in California through online devices.

These propositions have received the most financial campaign contributions. According to the Washington Post, over $400 million has been used to advertise these two propositions, whether for or against. Despite that, the latest poll projections show the two propositions are heading towards defeat.

To break it down, Proposition 26 would allow in person sports betting at racetracks or  tribal casinos, if over the age of 21. There would be an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars profited towards the state annually; where that money would go is uncertain. 

Arguments against this proposition revolve around casino jobs, with critics saying card rooms could decline in business, taking away jobs and tax revenue which could impact minority communities. However, some argue that the proposition will drive more business to casinos, creating more jobs as well as supporting the tribes more.

Certain people who side with the Indian Reservations want a yes on Prop. 26, and no on Prop. 27, so that people will have to come to their casinos to place the bets. The factors of having to be at the casino to place bets would increase production at their tables and machines inside the casinos. 

Proposition 27 is also going by the name “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act.” Prop 27 claims that around 85% of the state’s profit will go towards homelessness, and the rest of the profit going to tribes not participating in the sports gambling industry. There would be a 10% tax on gambling revenuethat would go to the state.

Some mayors, including Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, are for Prop. 27 just because of the fact that he wants the tax revenue. He said in an interview with ABC30 that it could be a solution to things like housing, homelessness, or any other current issue that cities are dealing with.

With these propositions, money and jobs are the overarching themes through each argument. While these are very important to the propositions, there is the other side of thinking about who is going to be voting, and that is parents, future parents and young adults.

Will there be thousands of college students showing up to vote because they want to gamble on their phones? Will there be hundreds of thousands of parents voting no because they don’t want their kids to be able to go to the casino and lose all their money?

What the government might not know is that there are already so many illegal websites and formats for people to gamble on sports or casino games that regardless of how people vote, sports gambling with continue on. Legalizing it could help regulate the industry to prevent abuse, while generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to support homeless and mental health programs in California.

At the end of the day, throughout America, sports gambling has been legalized in many states, and sooner rather than later things will change in California. It may not be in 2022, but it will be hard for a state like California to watch other states like New York make a lot of revenue from online gambling.