Our long, statewide nightmare of sports-betting campaign commercials for dueling propositions is over, and for now California voters have roundly rejected all expansion of sports gambling — at casinos or otherwise.
It was the most spending ever in a ballot-initiative race in the state, with the campaigns for Propositions 26 and 27 spending a combined $600 million to deluge us with TV and YouTube ads for the last several months urging Yes votes on one and No votes on the other, and vice versa.
Prop 26, which would have legalized sports gambling at tribal casinos and horse tracks, garnered only 30% of the vote at last count, per the Associated Press. And meanwhile Prop 27 won a dismal 16% of the vote. The latter proposition would have legalized online and mobile sports betting throughout the state, and was cast as a money grab by out-of-state corporations like Draft Kings and FanDuel, who would be taking market share away from tribes when it came to gambling.
"Our internal polling has been clear and consistent for years: California voters do not support online sports betting," says Anthony Roberts, tribal chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, speaking to the AP. "Voters have real and significant concerns about turning every cellphone, laptop and tablet into a gambling device, the resulting addiction and exposure to children."
But voters also had little to no interest in expanding sports betting to tribal casinos. And the state's highly regulated and taxed cardroom industry was staunchly opposed to Prop 26, saying that it would take market share away from them in favor of a handful of wealthy tribes.
Prop 27 had also cast itself as being a funding initiative to address homelessness, because 10% of revenue was said to go to homelessness. But Governor Gavin Newsom, while never endorsing or rejecting either of these props, did make the comment that 27 was "not a homeless initiative," as the AP notes.
Given the money at stake if California ever did join the 30 other states that allow online sports betting, this may not be the last time we see sports gambling on the ballot. But sweet lord Jesus we don't have to listen to these ads again for at least a couple of years.
Likely thanks in part to an ad campaign with Governor Gavin Newsom as its face, the No on 30 campaign won out on Tuesday, with the AP calling it after 41% of ballots were counted. At that point, the measure was going down with 59% voting No — and as Vox notes, this initiative, which would have taxed the very wealthy in order to fund electric-car-charging infrastructure and other climate initiatives, was initially popular before Newsom went to bat against it.
As SF noted earlier, this was likely a favor by Newsom to his wealthy donors and VC friends, but Newsom's people called that characterization "offensive."
Also, the dialysis wars are over — for now — with Prop 29 going down with 70% No votes, thanks to an onslaught of ads funded by dialysis clinic corporations. But since this was, for the third even-year November election in a row, largely a push by the nurses' union, SEIU-United Health Care Workers West, to get Big Di to the negotiating table and do some more hiring, this also may not be the last we hear about this. The two main companies, Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita, have spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat these measures, starting with Prop 8 in 2018, and then Prop 23 in 2020 — but will the union try for Round 4 in 2024?
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