California Democrats Oppose Online Sports Betting But Does It Matter?

Written By Brad Allen on July 13, 2022
California sports betting

The California Democratic Party will oppose online sports betting in the state.

The Party’s Resolutions Committee met Sunday to review the eight propositions expected to be on the statewide ballot in November.

The committee voted unanimously to oppose Prop 27, the online CA sports betting initiative. It was also neutral on the competing tribal betting initiative Prop 26.

The Democratic executive board later approved those positions. 

Why do Democrats oppose online CA sports betting?

Those positions will be put into Democratic voter guides distributed to party members. 

DNC member RL Miller, who voted to oppose the measure, said Prop 27 advocates did not offer clear evidence how it would solve the homelessness issue. The measure is titled Solutions for Homelessness.

“I just can’t emphasize this enough,” Miller told LSR. “Homelessness/mental health is a huge issue in CA right now. And if I had heard from some trusted voices that this measure would really make a dent, that might have swayed me and it definitely would have swayed other delegates.”

‘Word salad’

Miller continued, “Prop 27 proponents had tribal folk testify, but it backfired. They tried explaining that Prop 27 actually helps tribal sovereignty but it came across to me as word salad. Instead it just looked like they were being flown in to provide window dressing.”

Opponents of the measure also provided figures suggesting online sports betting had field to raise the promised revenues in states like Colorado. It is worth noting CA tribes historically been reliable Democratic voters and funders.

Miller said the party was neutral on the retail betting measure because it might negatively affect the state’s cardrooms. Those cardrooms are staffed by union members, another key Democratic party backer.

Does it matter for CA sports betting push?

Miller suggested there might be some impact.

“California is a blue state, the Democrat Party is strong, and so far we haven’t heard a compelling message to vote for Prop 27,” Miller said.

Indeed, the Democratic Party represents more than 10 million voters in the state and controls both chambers of the legislature.

Sports law professor John Holden also said the opposition could be important.

I think it’s significant from the standpoint that this will be a prominent feature of future opposition ads,” Holden said. “I think that the mobile initiative was always nothing short of a Hail Mary from DraftKings’s and FanDuel’s own 20 and now they just picked up a 15-yard penalty.”

History on online side?

However, Nathan Click, a spokesperson for the online campaign, said party endorsements had not historically been impactful.

“In 2020 the California Democratic Party took positions on 11 initiatives. In November, their endorsed side lost 7 of those 11 campaigns (about two-thirds).  Our campaign continues to have the momentum in this race.

“Californians across the political spectrum support Prop. 27 because it’s the only one that provides hundreds of millions of dollars in solutions to homelessness, mental health and addiction, and Prop. 27 is the only one that supports small and disadvantaged Tribes. That’s why a broad and bipartisan coalition of mayors, non-profit leaders and California Tribes all support 27.”

The online California sports betting proposition has three tribal supporters: the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians and the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe. 

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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