In November, Californians will likely face the question: Should sports betting be legalized?
And then, a little further on in their scrutiny, there’s a good chance they’ll be asked again: Should sports betting be legalized?
Yes. The odds are that two measures will appear in the November ballot to legalize sports betting. This has been reduced from earlier this year when four different initiatives were at stake.
Of the two remaining measures, one is already eligible for the November ballot and the other should be eligible shortly.
Here’s what each initiative does
The “California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act” is supported by a group of Native American tribes and is currently eligible for ballot. It would allow tribal casinos and the state’s four racecourses to offer sports betting. It would also allow tribal casinos to expand their gaming offerings to roulette and dice games.
Meanwhile, the “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act” is supported by several large sports betting companies, including FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. It would legalize online sports betting outside Native American lands and allow gambling companies to offer online sports betting if they partner with a tribe. Electoral officials are reviewing the signatures for this initiative: if there are enough, it too will be eligible for the ballot.
Here’s what happens if they both pass
California sometimes ends up with ballots that have multiple initiatives on the same topic.
If one passes and the others don’t, then there is no problem: what passes takes effect, the others don’t.
If they all pass and do not conflict with each other, they can all take effect.
But, if more than one passes and they conflict with each other, the one that passed with the highest margin of “yes” votes goes into effect and the other does not, according to the California constitution.
The initiative backed by FanDduel, DraftKkings and BetMGM says it does not conflict with the measure that allows sports betting on tribal lands and that if both pass, both go into effect. The tribal-backed measure says nothing if it conflicts with other measures.
So if both initiatives pass – and the FanDuel and DraftKings-backed initiative passes by a higher margin – both measures are likely to go into effect, said Ian Imrich, a Southern California attorney whose practice includes the law. about games. But if they both pass and the tribal measure passes by a higher margin, the lawyers of the tribal measure could argue in court that the two measures conflict, to try to prevent the measure advocated by FanDuel and DraftKings from taking effect.
Other electoral doublings
It is not the first time that there is more than one initiative on the same topic. In 2016 there were two initiatives related to the death penalty and two on plastic bags.
Lawmakers can also negotiate agreements between supporters of the initiative. In 2014, lawmakers passed a bill that allowed supporters to withdraw their measures from the ballot closest to the election, giving them more time to potentially work out a deal. In April, for example, lawmakers negotiated a deal between patient associations, consumer advocates and healthcare professionals, passing a law that increases the penalties victims of medical malpractice can seek and avoid a costly initiative battle on the matter.
In February, when four sports betting initiatives were at stake, state legislative leaders Anthony Rendon and Toni Atkins expressed interest in pursuing a compromise on sports betting.
“I think it’s always confusing to voters when there are multiple voting measures along the same article,” said state Senate leader Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, at a Sacramento Press Club event. If you want to see progress, it helps if it’s simpler, so I think maybe there will be an opportunity (to negotiate a deal), ”Atkins said.
When CalMatters asked the Atkins office if legislative leaders were still considering a deal, a spokesperson said they were still looking into it.
How Californians feel
The overwhelming majority of Californians believe the initiative process needs to be changed, according to a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in April. Over 90% of Californians somehow or firmly agreed that the wording of ballot measures is often too confusing for voters to understand what happens if the initiative passes, and 56% said special interests largely control. of the process.
Most of the initiatives do not pass and Mark Baldassare, president of the institute, said that the likelihood of a measure passing is further reduced if voters are confused.
That the initiatives can confuse voters – and that the process can be further confused by having more than one initiative on the same topic – is “a huge problem,” said Mary-Beth Moylan, associate dean of the McGeorge Pacific University. Faculty of Law.
“People don’t tend to read things closely. And often, what’s included in the title of the ballot is likely misleading, “Moylan said.” So it’s especially dangerous in a situation where you have multiple initiatives on the same or similar topics.