The latest California gambling ballot measures, Propositions 26 and 27, have fundraising records broken and a fragmented public opinion.
“If a child or teenager could order something from Amazon, imagine having access to the game,” Esteban Castillo, a 64-year-old Rialto resident, said of the prop. 27, which would allow tribal casinos and gaming companies to offer online sports betting. . “There would be no way for gambling services to be responsible for who actually accesses their sites.”
Supporters and opponents raised a total of $357 million in August 17, making it the costliest initiative in state history, according to a The Mercury News story.
Prop. 26 – legalize in-person sports betting, roulette and dice games
Prop. 26 would allow tribal casinos and racetracks to allow in-person sports betting. In California, the only legal form of sports betting is offered in horse racing.
Tribal casinos could also offer roulette and dice based games such as Hazard, Craps and Banca Francesa, which are currently illegal in the state.
Proponents of Proposition 26 claim that legalizing sports betting at tribal casinos and licensed racetracks would increase state tax revenue. The ballot measure would institute a 10% tax on profits made from sports betting at racetracks.
About 15% of funds raised would go to California Department of Health research on gambling prevention and addiction programs and related mental health programs and grants, according to a analysis by state. Another 15% would go to sports betting and gambling app fees and the remaining 70% to the general fund.
Opponents say card room revenues could plummet if hit by the measure’s new enforcement and related penalties, which could then reduce the taxes and fees card rooms pay to cities where they are, cutting city budgets and reducing local service delivery, according to a condition analysis.
Prop. 27 – legalize online sports betting
Proposition 27 would allow tribal casinos and gambling companies to offer online sports betting. Proponents of the initiative say projected revenue from the proposal could provide permanent solutions to homelessness, mental health and issues such as drug addiction in California.
“I feel like with more ways to bet in casinos it would create more job opportunities… leading to more money for the community,” said Rafael Alfaro, 23, who lives at Highland Park and supports both measures of play. “As an adult, you should be able to make your own decisions whether you want to play or not.”
Tribal casinos oppose this proposal because they fear that out-of-state gaming companies will monopolize the sports betting space and harm tribal casinos.
Other opponents, like Rialto’s Castillo, worry that online sports betting that would be allowed under Proposition 27 could lead to financial instability and gambling addiction. Additionally, residents might not benefit as much. they should from the money raised, he added.
“The real problem is who is going to make sure the profits actually go where they say they do?” Castillo said. “The revenue from these new taxes should be audited annually.”
Castillo knows the evils of the game first hand. He got hooked in 2013 while accompanying his wife to Morongo and San Manuel casinos at least once a week. He eventually began visiting the San Manuel casino on his own more than five times a week.
Castillo’s descent into addiction and debt led him to sell his Pasadena home in 2017 and move to the Inland Empire. Despite settling his finances after moving, Castillo continued to frequent the casino and began going there almost daily as he lived closer.
He said he’s still struggling with his addiction, but he’s confident that with his recent retirement and reconnecting with his family, he’s more motivated than ever to get better.
He added that addiction and greed can be blinding: “In my experience, all it takes is one bad gaming experience and you’ll slowly lose everything you love and eventually lose yourself.”