California Democrats Oppose Online Sports Wagering in Move Appreciated By Tribes

  • California Democrats voted to oppose corporate-led Proposition 27
  • The powerful party voted to remain neutral on tribe-backed Proposition 26
  • Move seen as reaffirming Democrats’ “commitment to California’s Indian tribes”
  • Joely Proudfit labelled Proposition 27 “an assault on tribal sovereignty”
  • Californians go to the ballot this November to settle the battle between tribes and corporates
California flag
California Democrats have voted to oppose an online sports betting proposal while staying neutral on an in-person sports betting proposal favoring the state’s tribes. [Image:]

A welcome boost

As the battle for California legal sports betting heightens, anti-digital-betting campaigners got a welcome boost as Democrats recently announced their decision to oppose Proposition 27 for online sports wagering.

the party holds the power in the California legislature

While the Democrats’ vote on Sunday to oppose the online sports betting initiative put forth by BetMGM, DraftKings and other firms might not affect the way the November ballot plays out, the party holds the power in the California legislature and occupies the Governor’s office. California anti-online group NoOnProp27 took to Twitter to share news of the vote:

The Democrats did not go as far as supporting Proposition 26, an initiative backed by multiple tribes that would give tribal casinos and horse race tracks a monopoly over California’s in-person sports betting, instead voting to remain neutral.

That neutrality didn’t bother the tribal coalition in the slightest. Instead, in giving the thumbs down to Proposition 27, the Democrats are the heroes of the day, at least among the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

The tribe’s chairman Reid Milanovich said that by opposing the BetMGM et al. initiative, the “California Democrats rejected out-of-state corporations and reaffirmed their commitment to California’s Indian tribes.”

Advantage: tribes

Milanovich’s wasn’t the only tribal voice using the Democrats’ stance to remind its followers that Proposition 27 was “an assault on tribal sovereignty,” as California Democratic Party Native American Caucus First Vice Chair Joely Proudfit put it.

would expose children to a massive expansion of gambling”

Prop 27 is not a solution to anything. It would expose children to a massive expansion of gambling and turn every cell phone, gaming console, tablet and laptop into a gambling device,” Proudfit added.

As the lucrative battle for California sports betting builds toward a final reckoning in November, the marketing and publicity machines behind the tribal initiative and that of the corporate sports heavyweights are chewing through millions of dollars to persuade Californians to vote for them.

Industry consultants have predicted that the tribes vs. sports operators fight to seize the spoils of California sports betting will be “the most expensive political battle this year.” VegasSlotsOnline News dubbed it “The New Gold Rush”.

The coalition of major sportsbook operators — DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Bally’s Interactive, Fanatics, Penn National Gaming, and WynnBET — bankroll Proposition 27, complete with a $100m lobbying fund.

Down to the wire

The sports betting firms’ Proposition 27 went down well with many Californians, receiving more than enough valid signatures to get onto the ballot. Prop 27 would essentially allow for statewide online betting with platforms linked to tribal casinos.

Tribes, however, argue the operator application fee and multi-state licensing requirement set by Proposition 27 would limit particpation to only a handful of online operators.

Despite the Democrats’ tacit backing, who controls California’s sports betting is ultimately in the hands of voters this November.

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