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Confused about gambling propositions?

Tribal leader urges 'no' vote on both

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Some election cycles contain multiple state propositions on the ballot that are often confusing. This year there are only seven and the Village News will present a series of articles to help educate voters. We start with Propositions 26 and 27, both about online gambling.

You can't miss the ads on these. Proponents of the two gambling propositions on Nov. 8 have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, both saying their proposition is best and the other isn't good.

Someone with insight on the matter – call it "inside information" – is Robert Smith, Tribal Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians. In a recent letter to the 1,100 tribal members, he urged a no vote on Proposition 27.

And in a phone interview last week, he said he was also opposed to Proposition 26.

Smith, elected board chairman for the past 32 years, explained that California tribes have had a 20-year agreement, approved by voters statewide and established in the California State Constitution, that tribes can operate gaming exclusively in this state.

"That agreement is now being threatened by out-of-state gaming corporations, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, who want sports wagering capabilities for themselves," he wrote. "They now have a ballot measure for this November, Proposition 27, that would allow them to offer sports wagering. If this ballot measure passes, they will use it to undermine Indian gaming."

In the phone interview, Smith said what would be best for Indians in the state is a different option on the 2024 ballot that would give rights to online gambling to the 109 tribes in the state. Pala has previously attempted to have a proposition qualify for the ballot but was unsuccessful. He's more confident it will occur in 2024.

Smith said Prop. 27 had "deceptive funding promises, lack of real jobs and investment in the state, and lack of safe gaming infrastructure that protects our kids – a bad deal for California."

He wrote, "Prop. 27 is a direct assault on tribal sovereignty and exclusivity. It requires tribes to give up their rights under the California Constitution in order to participate, breaking a promise made to tribes by California voters that created the successful partnership that is working so well today. With access to California as the nation's largest online gaming market, out-of-state corporations will move quickly to expand to full online casino gaming. This is a serious threat to gaming tribes and threatens our ability to maintain self-sufficiency."

Sports wagering, whether on-site or online, should be offered only through California's Tribes, he wrote.

"This is a very serious threat to Indian gaming, so that's why California Tribes established the Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming Coalition, which includes Pala, to fight and defeat Prop. 27," he stated. "The Coalition opposes the out-of-state sports betting measure because it's bad for California tribes and bad for all Californians."

The "No on 27" group says that both the California Democratic Party and California Republican Party have officially opposed Prop. 27, with the bi-partisan opposition based on "out-of-state corporate gaming" involvement.

"Prop. 27 breaks the promise made to California's Native American tribes to grant them the sovereign right to operate gaming in California in order to improve the lives of their communities across the state," said Jessica Millan Patterson, chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "We stand with California tribes and oppose Prop. 27."

A bi-partisan alliance of over 60 elected officials from throughout California opposes the measure, which it says will ship 90% of online gaming revenue out of state. Others opposing Prop. 27, include the California Teachers Association, League of California Cities and Veterans of Foreign Wars (California department).

The official title of Prop. 27: Allows Online and Mobile Sports Wagering Outside Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Prop. 27 would expand gambling in California beyond casinos currently operated by Native American tribes by allowing private businesses to operate online and mobile sports wagering for persons 21 and up.

The official title of Prop. 26: Allows In-Person Roulette, Dice Games, Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute

This proposition affirms the current practice of allowing only federally recognized Native American tribes to operate roulette, dice games, and sports wagering on tribal lands, subject to compacts negotiated by the governor and ratified by the legislature.

It would also allow on-site sports wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in specified counties for ages 21 and up. It also expands the use of the Private Attorneys General Act to allow unscrupulous trial attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits to shakedown small businesses, according to Reform California, a conservative California group. It recommends a no vote on both propositions.

 

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