Election Day Means End Of The Beginning For California Sports Betting

November 8, 2022
It appears to be only a matter of how big the loss will be for two California sports-betting measures on Tuesday, but the debate is not going away and the question is when, not if, a rematch will occur.


It appears to be only a matter of how big the loss will be for two California sports-betting measures on Tuesday (November 8), but the debate is not going away and the question is when, not if, a rematch will occur.

The bitter nature of this year’s campaign, which pitted California gaming tribes against commercial sports-betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuel, has caused some analysts to think voters — exhausted by relentless television ads — may want a timeout extending even beyond the next general election in 2024.

“My guess would be that the players have learned a bit from this campaign with dueling initiatives and might try to work together to come up with a proposal that connects online sports betting to the tribal casinos more directly,” said Mary-Beth Moylan, an associate dean at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento.

California gaming tribes, in arguably their most impressive victory yet over commercial competitors, essentially ignored their own in-person sports-betting initiative, Proposition 26, to defeat Proposition 27, which would have legalized online betting in the nation’s most populous state.

Meanwhile, an Indian tribe in New York could be a factor in the unexpectedly close governor’s race between Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin.

The Seneca Nation of New York has not forgiven Governor Hochul after she issued a subpoena to freeze the tribe’s bank accounts to force payments that helped finance a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.

During their only debate on October 25, Zeldin said Hochul “screwed over” the Seneca Nation.

“I believe some of the [Seneca] officials met with him [Zeldin], and provided a donation, but [I] don’t know how much,” said a prominent tribal gaming lobbyist who requested anonymity.

Anyone who doubts the growing political clout of the tribal gaming industry should take a look at campaign contributions released on October 28 by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Almost by definition, U.S. senators from Nevada are champions of gaming — the Silver State’s biggest industry — and Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is no exception.

But Masto, who is locked in a tight race for re-election with Republican Adam Laxalt, an opponent of internet gambling, ranks second among members of Congress in receiving campaign contributions from the gaming industry in the last two years.

The leading recipient is Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids of Kansas, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018.

The other was Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Davids, who is expected to easily win re-election to a third term on Tuesday, has received $252,025 from gaming interests, more than 34 percent higher than $166,150 for Masto, according to the FEC.

If Masto loses, and she is trailing Laxalt by 1.4 points in a November 7 poll by 538, Nevada’s gaming industry may no longer have such a reliable advocate in the Senate.

Laxalt has received $87,750 from the gaming industry, according to the FEC.

In another November 7 poll by 538, Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada is trailing Republican Joe Lombardo by 1.8 points.

“It won’t matter much to the gaming industry who is senator or governor because both of them are going to support the industry generally,” said Michael Green, an associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Green said Miriam Adelson, the widow of former Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson who died last year, may be more politically ideological than her husband even though he was the Republican Party’s largest donor.

But Sands has contributed only $33,298 in this year’s midterm elections compared with $62.35m during the last midterm elections in 2018, according to the FEC.

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