By McKenzie Jackson | California Black Media
On Election Day, voters in Golden State emphatically chastised sports gambling initiatives on the ballot.
With 67% of ballots counted at press time, according to the Associated Press (AP), 83.31% or 5,628,855 California voters voted against Proposition 27, which would have legalized online sports betting. The initiative has been backed by gaming industry titans Bally’s, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, PENN Entertainment and WynnBet.
Proposition 27 was one of the least successful ballot measures in the past 30 years, based on the percentage of yes votes. Nearly 17% or 1,127,983 voters voted “yes”.
The proposal was opposed by more than 50 Native American tribes in California who said internet sports betting would harm gambling activities at tribal casinos across the state.
Greg Sarris, Chairman of the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria Tribe in the Bay Area, a member of the Coalition for Safe Responsible Gambling, No on Prop 27, said the No on 27 campaign is grateful that voters stood by the sides of the state’s Indian tribes and shot down the proposal backed by gaming companies.
“Today’s vote is a show of support for tribal autonomy and a complete rejection of corporate greed,” Sarris said in an election night statement.
Anthony Roberts, tribal chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in Northern California, said no in a 27 poll before the November 8 election revealed Californians don’t support online sports betting.
“Voters have real and significant concerns about every cell phone, laptop and tablet being turned into a gaming device,” Roberts said, “and the resulting addiction and child exposure.”
Another sports betting measure – this one backed by dozens of Indian tribes – was also rejected.
Proposition 26 would have legalized sports betting at tribal casinos and allowed them to offer craps and roulette. According to the AP, however, 69.71% or 4,665,484 voters marked “no” on their ballot when asked if they supported the initiative, while 30.39% or 2,036,734 Californians marked “yes”.
Santa Monica voter Clint Thompson, 39, is not playing but voted in favor of Proposition 26 and opposed Proposition 27.
“I wanted the tribes to keep the money,” Thompson said. “I feel like it’s hard for them to make money. Any possible fuss they can make on tribal lands, they should have it.
The eve of Election Day saw ads for and against both proposals swamp the airwaves and digital platforms. The combined campaigns conducted the most expensive election measurement contest in US history – spending nearly half a billion dollars.
Both campaigns have sought support from various individuals and entities across California. Many civil rights organizations, including the Los Angeles and Southern California Baptist Ministers’ Conference, the Black Business Association, the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP and the California African American Chamber of Commerce have supported the proposal. 26.
Voters’ rejection of gambling initiatives leaves America’s biggest market – California – beyond the reach of legal sports betting.
Nathan Click, spokesman for the Prop 27 campaign, said the coalition knew passing Prop 27 would be an uphill battle, but they remained committed to it.
“This campaign underscored our determination to see California follow more than half the country in legalizing safe and responsible online sports betting,” Click said.