Published: June 17, 2022

Dueling sports betting ad campaigns ramping up in California

The back-and-forth is making for an expensive campaign as two powerful industries fight for your vote

Expensive, dueling ad campaigns over allowing sports betting in California are ramping up ahead of the November election.

One measure would allow online sports betting for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel.

The opposing measure would legalize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks.

California tribes have started an ad campaign against the measure to allow online sports betting in California before it officially qualifies for the November ballot.

"When voters granted our sovereign nations exclusive gaming rights, it advanced self-sufficiency and created thousands of good jobs," said California Tribal Leader Jesus Tarango in the ad.

"But now, out-of-state corporations are coming to California," added Tribal Leader Glenda Nelson.

Tribes say this is a threat to their financial independence that would take away much-needed revenue that also benefits surrounding communities.

"It is a direct attack against tribal self-sufficiency and tribal sovereignty," said Kenneth Khan, chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. "From our perspective, it's a massive expansion of online sports gambling. Every cellphone, every laptop, every tablet is gonna be a gambling device."

Those in favor of online sports betting say the measure will generate hundreds of millions each year to tackle major issues in California.

"We'll use it to solve our state's toughest challenge - homelessness - and funding mental health treatment and addiction services that help get folks off the streets," said Nathan Click, spokesman for the initiative to legalize online sports betting.

That initiative is called the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act.

"As we're looking at this bare market right now, we're inevitably going to see budget shortfalls," said Click. "This would be additional revenue that doesn't' come from folks' taxes."

California tribes have proposed a counter-measure that has already qualified for the ballot. It would allow in-person sports betting at their casinos, as well as racetracks.

Kahn says their measure protects against underage betting.

"We have 20 years of history of responsible gaming," he Khan. "It's highly regulated. When you have to go into a brick-and-mortar facility and place a bet, you go through multiple screenings of age verification. At our casino, you have to be 21 to enter the front door."

A spokesperson for the online sports betting initiative insists that safeguards will be in place.

"In order to sign onto one of these services, you have to prove your identity and prove that you're over the age of 21.

You have to give them access to your bank account to be able to verify your identity and they run a background check as well," said Click.

The back-and-forth is making for an expensive campaign as two powerful industries fight for your vote.

According to Politico, online companies have spent $100 million to promote online sports betting. Tribes have spent at least $66 million against it.

A Chumash spokesperson says that tribal gaming employs more than 150,000 people across California.

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