This proposition expands the types of games allowed inside indigenous tribes’ casinos as well as in-person sports wagering, now permitted by the Supreme Court of the United States. It also authorizes four privately owned racetracks to have in-person sports wagering as well.
The opposition fears this is a monopoly. The exceptions to reservation and rancheria based gambling are card rooms that often are within smaller, minority-dominant towns and small cities. They additionally posit the proposition “weaponizes” trial attorneys’ ability to sue competitors, but the suits are possible against only illegally operating betting parlors.
Another concern is what the expansion of in-person sports wagering will have on those places such as the card parlors that are not authorized to have such betting. This is a source of jobs and revenue in some communities. So, it’s important to determine whether gamblers would desert the card parlors for the casinos.
Some researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, did a study based on data and observations from the 1970s-2000s on the types of gaming pursued by different groups of gamblers. There are strong preferences for “table” v mechanical or “electronic” games. In other words, those who like card games will patronize the card parlors. Those who like electronic games will patronize the casinos with slots. Those preferences and patronage are not currently impacted by the existing arrangements and are not, it would seem, likely to change. (UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal • Volume 6, Issue 1)
What about underage gamblers? The barriers to those under 21 are already in place, appear quite effective, and are also not likely to change. No one encourages underage wagering of any type. Neither the tribal casinos nor the racetracks will be marketing to underage youth.
What Proposition 26 does do is increase tribal jobs and revenues. It increases tribal self-sufficiency, and it will return, per the California Legislative Analyst, “tens of millions of dollars” to the state annually.
While, as noted, we think gambling is a waste of people’s time and money, it is their time and money. We always will deal with addiction concerns, and we expect these changes will not alter, one way or the other, what people’s personal experiences are, good or bad. Unless we are prepared to end all casinos and all wagering, which SCOTUS has said we cannot do, we look to mitigate harm and find as much that is positive in the choices before us. We recommend a YES vote.