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California Sports Betting Bills Go Down in Flames

California voters shot down two ballot measures aimed at bringing regulated sports betting to the Golden State. These defeats come despite the fact that the supporters of the bills spent an eye-popping $600 million in their efforts to turn the doomed bills into law.

Proposition 26 would have allowed existing tribal gaming interests to offer retail-level sports betting while expanding the options for table games at tribal casinos. If passed, the bill would have allowed tribes to offer online sports betting in five years.

Voters saw through this pretty transparent attempt to block off the market to competition and failed to rally around the measure. As of this writing, approximately 70 percent of the votes cast were votes against Proposition 26.

Proposition 27, which would have allowed national operators to pair with local tribes to offer online sports betting, suffered a similar fate at the hands of voters. This bill, which also offered part of the sports betting revenue to help benefit homeless Californians, was supported by only 16 percent of the electorate, with an astounding 86 percent of voters voting no on the bill, according to reporting by KRCA 3 TV news.

So what went wrong? Voters were genuinely unimpressed with both bills in part because both were pretty disingenuous. Proposition 26 offered little to California voters and plenty to tribal gaming interests by way of protecting their California gaming monopoly. Proposition 27 at least had the benefit of offering online sports betting, but was similarly hampered by its less-than-sincere veneer of benefiting the homeless.

It’s a near certainty that both sides will go back to the drawing board to figure out another route but, for now, California’s tribal gaming interests remain the big bosses of the California gaming industry.