Is California’s Gambling War the Costliest Campaign in US History? Sure

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tThe campaign that could bring legalized sports betting to California is the costliest battle in US history, costing $400 million, pitting wealthy indigenous tribes against online gambling companies in a potentially multi-billion dollar market.

Californians have been bombarded with advertisements for months, many of which make promises far beyond a hefty payout from a slot game. Some advertisements from the consortium of gambling companies barely mention online betting.

Instead, the ads tease a plethora of new revenue benefits — helping those without housing, helping those with mental illness, and providing financial security for poorer countries that haven’t seen any windfall from casino gambling. Further obscuring the issue: There are two sports betting questions on the ballot.

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The skeptics include Democratic state governor Gavin Newsom, who has not taken a position on either proposal, but has said Proposition 27 is “not a homeless initiative,” despite claims in advertisements.

Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, said “something for nothing” promises had historically been used to sell state lotteries as a borderless source of education funding. It was political merchant art, “not a panacea,” he said.

With much at stake, more than $400 million has been raised so far — easily a national record for a ballot fight and nearly doubling the previous California figure achieved in 2020 — with seven weeks to go. the vote ends on November 8.

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“They’re spending hundreds of millions because billions are at stake,” said longtime Democratic adviser Steven Maviglio, referring to possible future profits from extensive gambling in the state of nearly 40 million people.

“Both sides will get really rich in the long run,” said Maviglio, who is not involved in the campaign. It could “become a permanent source of funding for a handful of companies — or a handful of tribes.”

It could all be a bad bet.

With the midterm elections approaching, voters are in a bad mood and cynical about political sales pitches. And with two similar proposals on the ballot, history suggests voters tend to get confused and grab the “no” lever on both.

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“When in doubt, people vote no,” Pitney said.

Competitive measure paints a confused picture

In California, gambling is now allowed on horse racing, in casinos run by native lands, in card rooms, and through the state lottery. But the state is a bit behind in sports betting, which has spread all over the country.

The two proposals would pave the way for sports betting, but in strikingly different ways.

A casino in Rohnert Park, California. The campaign that could bring legalized sports betting to the state has sparked a battle over what could become the country’s most lucrative marketplace. Photo: Eric Risberg/UKTN

Proposition 27 is supported by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel – the latter being the official odds provider for the UK Time News – and other national sports betting providers. The proposal would change state law to allow online sports betting for adults over the Internet and on phones or other mobile devices.

Multi-state operators would be required to partner with a country involved in gambling, or licensed countries could participate themselves. However, the nations claim they would have to give up some of their independence to enter into the deal. A tax would cover regulatory costs, with the bulk of the rest going to homelessness programs, with some going to countries not involved in online betting.

A rival proposal backed by many countries, Proposition 26, would allow people to bet personally on sporting events at retail locations — casinos operated by tribes and the state’s four licensed horse racing tracks. Part of a 10% tax would help enforce gambling laws and programs to help people with gambling addictions. It could also open the way for roulette and dice games in tribal casinos.

A handful of political committees are at the center of the fray, raising funds and competing for public support.

The Yes on 26, No on 27 committee, sponsored by more than two dozen indigenous countries, raised about $108 million this month, state records show. Among the major donors: Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria ($30m), the Pechanga Band of Indians ($25m) and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($20m). They are all enriched with their own casinos.

Another committee looking to cover Proposition 27 is backed by countries, including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and has raised about $91 million.

Their main rival, the Yes on 27 commission, backed by sports betting, has generated approximately $169 million in loans and donations.

A committee opposing Proposition 26, backed by card clubs, has raised more than $41 million for the fight. The proposal includes enforcement changes that the clubs see as an attempt to give tribes a virtual monopoly on all gambling in the state.

Despite the high claims of new revenue for the state, it is not clear what the tax benefits of both proposals could be.

A muddle of political support is in the mix, and voters are witnessing a deluge of competing claims.

The No on 26 commission says wealthy tribes want to abuse the system to gain unprecedented gambling revenues and political influence.

Rob Stutzman, a spokesperson for the No on 27 committee, warned that up to 90% of the proposal’s profits could go to the gambling companies and “you know a measure is bad news when both the Democratic and Republican parties oppose it.” to postpone.”

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