What if Californians pass two sports betting initiatives?

In summary

There is a good chance that two initiatives to legalize sports betting will appear on the November ballot. If both pass, both could go into effect or the result could be decided in court, depending on which gets the most upvotes.


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In November, Californians will likely face the question: Should sports betting be legalized?

And then, a little further down on their ballot, there’s a good chance they’ll be asked again: Should sports betting be legalized?

Yes. Two measures to legalize sports betting are likely to appear on the November ballot. This has been canceled from earlier this year, when four different initiatives were in play.

Of the two remaining measures, one is already eligible for the November ballot and the other is expected to be soon.

Here’s what each initiative does

The “California Sports Betting Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act” is supported by a group of Native American tribes and is currently up for a vote. It would allow tribal casinos and the state’s four horse racing tracks to offer sports betting. It would also allow tribal casinos to expand their gambling offerings to roulette and craps games.

Meanwhile, the California Homelessness and Mental Health Solutions Act is supported by several major sports betting companies, including FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. It would legalize online sports betting outside of Native American lands and allow gaming companies to offer online sports betting if they partner with a tribe. Election officials are reviewing signatures for this initiative – if enough are valid, it too will be eligible for the ballot.

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Here’s what happens if they both pass

California occasionally ends up with ballots that have multiple initiatives on the same topic.

If one passes and the others do not, then there is no problem: the one that passes takes effect, the others do not.

If they all pass and don’t conflict with each other, they can all take effect.

But if more than one pass and they They are in conflict with each other, the one that passed with the largest margin of ‘yes’ votes takes effect and the other does not, according to the California constitution.

The initiative backed by FanDduel, DraftKings and BetMGM claims it does not conflict with the measure allowing sports betting on tribal lands, and that if both pass, both take effect. The measure supported by the tribes means nothing if it conflicts with other measures.

So if both initiatives pass – AND initiative backed by FanDuel and DraftKings passes by a larger margin — chances are both measures will go into effect, said Ian Imrich, a Southern California attorney whose practice includes gaming law. But if both pass and the tribal measure passes by a larger margin, attorneys for the tribal measure can argue in court that the two measures They are in conflict, to try and prevent the measure supported by FanDuel and DraftKings from going into effect.

Other duplication of ballots

This 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 regarding plastic bags.

Legislators can also broker agreements between initiative proponents. In 2014, lawmakers passed a bill that allowed supporters to drop their measures closer to the election, giving them more time to reach a deal. In April, for example, lawmakers negotiated a deal between patient groups, consumer advocates and medical professionals, passing a law that increases the penalties that victims of medical malpractice can seek and avoiding a costly initiative battle on the topic.

In February, when four sports betting initiatives were in the mix, state legislative leaders Anthony Rendon and Toni Atkins expressed interest in pursuing a compromise on sports betting.

“I think it’s always confusing for voters when there are multiple ballot measures on the same item,” state Senate leader Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, said at a Press Club event in Sacramento. “If you want to see progress, it’s helpful for it to be simpler, so I think there will probably be an opportunity (to negotiate a deal),” Atkins said.

When CalMatters asked Atkins’ office if legislative leaders were still considering a deal, a spokesman said they were still considering it.

Learn more about the lawmakers mentioned in this story

State Senate, District 39 (San Diego)

How did she vote in 2019-2020?

Liberal
CONSERVATIVE

Demographics of district 39

Race/Ethnicity

Latino

19%

The White one

56%

asian

16%

Black

5%

Multi-race

4%

Voter registration

to

44%

GOP

23%

No party

27%

Others

4%

Campaign contributions

Senator Toni Atkins has received at least
1.8 million dollars
from working
sector since she was elected to the legislature. Which represents
20%
from her total campaign contributions.

State Assembly District 63 (South Gate)

How he voted in 2019-2020

Liberal
CONSERVATIVE

Demographics of district 63

Race/Ethnicity

Latino

76%

The White one

10%

asian

6%

Black

7%

Multi-race

1%

Voter registration

to

56%

GOP

14%

No party

24%

Others

6%

Campaign contributions

Asm. Anthony Rendon has received at least
2.8 million dollars
from working
sector since he was elected to the legislature. Which represents
27%
of his total campaign contributions.

How do Californians feel?

An overwhelming majority of Californians think the initiative process should be changed, according to a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in April. Over 90% of voters somewhat or strongly 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 control too much of the process.

Most initiatives don’t pass, and Mark Baldassare, the institute’s president, said the likelihood of passage of a measure is further reduced if voters are confused by it.

The fact that initiatives can be confusing for voters — and that the process can be further muddled by having more than one initiative on the same topic — is “a huge problem,” said Mary-Beth Moylan, associate dean at the University of Pacific. McGeorge School of Law.

“People don’t tend to read things closely. And often, what’s included in the ballot title is probably misleading,” Moylan said. “So that’s especially dangerous in a situation where you have multiple initiatives on the same or similar topic.”

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