The tribal sports betting bill in California, Prop 26, is seeing opposition from the 78 local cardrooms. Due to a clause in Prop 26, cardrooms run the risk of being sued by tribes. Both Prop 26 and Prop 27 will be on the November ballot; however, the latter is the online sports betting one.
The bills passing could lead to a detrimental effect on card rooms.
California Sports Betting Battle: Prop 26 Vs. Card Rooms
A clause within Prop 26 would allow tribal-backed private lawyers to sue card rooms based on the games they offer. Language in the measure gives tribes this power. This would run the risk of financially harming cities that are supported by card room revenue. In Hawaiian Gardens, approximately 70% of the city’s funds come from the Gardens Casino. Games like blackjack and poker are some of the biggest attractions.
“There are interests, specifically tribal interests, that feel that card rooms should not exist,” said Juan Garza in an interview with ABC 7 Los Angeles, a representative of five card rooms in LA County. “And so, this is part of their tactic to be able to eliminate what they see as their competition. While Prop. 26 looks good to a lot of people, the reality is within Prop. 26, there’s a lot of hidden little poison pills in it. And one of them would absolutely devastate communities like Hawaiian Gardens.”
Many view this clause as a way to attack the competition with legislation. The tribes have been rivals with card rooms for years and this will give tribes more power against these gambling operators. Tribes have spent millions both promoting Prop 26 and opposing rival bill Prop 27. They are no strangers to attacking their opponents.
Pro Prop 26 tribal members have even vocally attacked the ethics of card rooms in response to the clause. The rivalry between tribes and cardrooms is no secret and cannot be ignored when evaluating the clause in Prop 26.
“Cardroom casinos and their gambling bankers have a well-documented history of flouting the law and have been fined millions of dollars for violating anti-money-laundering laws, misleading regulators, and operating illegal gambling,” said representatives of the Yes on 26 campaign.
Public Against Prop 26
Even as tribes push for anti-cardroom clauses within Prop 26, both Prop 26 and Prop 27 have been polling poorly. A recent poll showed that 42% of potential voters would vote No on Prop 26. This was run by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. Only 31% would vote Yes with 27% being undecided.
The likely cause of this negative view of the bill is likely California sports betting ads. Representatives of Prop 27 have pushed an ad campaign to smear Prop 26. This is in response to the tribes’ own smear ad.
“I think it’s the negative advertisements that have kind of been turning voters away,” said Berkeley IGS poll director Mark DiCamillo told the LA Times. “People who haven’t seen the ads are about evenly divided, but people who’ve seen a lot of ads are against it. So, the advertising is not helping.”
With Prop 26 polling in the red and a new opponent in cardrooms joining the fight, things are looking grim. Prop 26 will have a lot of work to do to offset the negative views heading into November.