By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — As a battle at the ballot box in November is brewing between two California sports betting initiatives, Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have announced opposition to the measure allowing online wagering in California.
Senate and Assembly leadership on both sides of the aisle have come out against Proposition 27, which would legalize online and mobile sports wagering for Californians who are 21 and older. The initiative, backed by FanDuel and DraftKings, would impose a 10% tax on licensing fees and sports-wagering revenues, which would first go toward paying regulatory costs. The remaining funds would then be distributed to support homelessness programs and non-participating tribes.
The initiative will appear on the ballot alongside Proposition 26, which would allow on-site sports wagering only at privately owned horse racing tracks and tribal casinos. The measure is supported by a coalition of 18 tribes.
In statements issued this week, Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate and Assembly urged Californians to vote “no” on Proposition 27 come November, siding with tribal governments in their opposition to the intuitive.
The tribes opposed to Prop. 27 include the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, whose tribal chairman, Kenneth Kahn, has appeared in TV commercials against the measure.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon voiced his opposition to Prop. 27 in a statement.
“I am concerned that Prop. 27 sends sports betting revenues to out-of-state corporations who wrote the measure to maximize their profits,” Speaker Rendon said. “Californians should vote No on 27 and support California tribes over out-of-state corporations.”
Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, issued a statement saying Prop. 27 “eliminates the sovereign right of California tribes to operate gaming in California.”
“They have proven to be excellent stewards of this responsibility,” Sen. Wilk said. “We should protect this tribal right, which has also benefited all Californians. Vote No on 27.”
FanDuel and DraftKings did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Center Square.
The opposition by lawmakers adds another layer to a battle that will play out at the ballot box this November when voters will be tasked with deciding whether to approve or deny one or both measures.
If Proposition 26 is passed by voters, Californians would be allowed to bet on sports at tribal casinos and at just four racetracks in the state. If Proposition 27 is passed, online sports betting operators could enter California’s market, though each operator would be required to partner with a federally-recognized Native American tribe, according to PlayCa.
There is a possibility that both measures could be passed by voters. If that happens, both propositions can take effect so long as they do not conflict with one another, as previously reported by CalMatters. Backers of Proposition 27 assert that the initiative was written to avoid conflict with Proposition 26.
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.
News-Press Managing Editor Dave Mason contributed to this story.