Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer is catching heartbreak in the mailbox this week despite not being on the ballot for two years.
The offense that is causing a stir with voters? Fresno’s chief executive supports a move that would legalize online sports betting in California.
Dyer’s opponents? Native American tribes leading their own initiative to legalize sports betting, but restricted to tribal casinos only.
The mayor of Fresno is the latest in a line of local officials amid a three-way war over sports betting in California.
As it stands, up to four different ballot measures legalizing sports betting could make it to the ballot.
Two led by various tribal gambling interests, one by California licensed car halls and another by online betting giants DraftKings, FanDuel and Bet MGM.
Dyer backed the last of the three options, dubbed the California Sports Betting and Consumer Protection Act. Dyer’s backers, along with many cities in the Golden State, would open sports betting to tribal casinos, state-licensed card rooms, race tracks and professional team facilities in California.
The initiative would also allow sports betting operators – such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM – to offer betting opportunities both on-site and in online mobile settings.
If voters approve, the initiative would impose a 10% tax on sports betting.
Of that tax, the betting giants would send 85% into a new fund for homelessness and mental health services, which is central to Dyer’s support, as he explained to ABC 30 last year. .
The remaining 15% would go to the Tribal Economic Development Account.
The Tribal-Led Coalition Against Out-of-State Online Gambling Initiative ran ads focused on Dyer, saying he supported an effort that would put children at risk.
“Mayor Dyer has approved a ballot measure sponsored by out-of-state online gaming companies that would turn virtually every cellphone, tablet and laptop computer into a gaming device,” reads a letter sent to Fresno voters.
The advertisement goes on to say that online gambling is highly addictive and attracts children with no guaranteed way to prevent underage gambling.
“Mayor Dyer: Please protect our children! Reject corporate online gambling proposal,” the ad read.
Meanwhile, tribal interests have qualified a competing initiative for the November ballot: California’s Sports Betting Regulations and Illegal Gambling Enforcement Act. The law would not only legalize sports betting in the state (only at tribal casinos), but also give tribes the ability to offer Vegas-style roulette and dice games, such as craps.
The measure has come under scrutiny for its inclusion of a provision targeting state-licensed card rooms.
Another tribal measure for November may emerge to remove this provision.