California Sports Betting: LA Times Editorial Urges Voters to Reject Prop 26 and 27

The Los Angeles Times, California’s largest newspaper, on Sunday called on voters to reject both sports betting measures, saying in an editorial both Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 offer “more risks than benefits” to the state.

An image of the Los Angeles Times website. On Sunday, the newspaper’s editorial board issued an editorial calling on voters to reject both sports betting measures that will appear on the California ballot in less than two months. (Image:

The two measures would legalize sports betting in different ways. Prop 26 would give operating rights to tribal casinos and California’s four thoroughbred racetracks. The measure would also give tribal casinos the ability to offer roulette and dice-based table games. Prop 27 would allow online sports betting through commercial or tribal entities.

If California ever decides to embrace sports betting, it should be with a framework that is as evenhanded as possible, and not one that so blatantly picks winners and losers,” The LA Times editorial board wrote.

Groups on both sides of both propositions have raised upwards of $400 million to state their case. It’s been a bitter fight between the vast majority of California’s tribal gaming leaders, who back Prop 26, and most of the country’s top online sports betting operators, which have funded the Prop 27 campaign.

Both measures go before California voters on Nov. 8.

Problems with Both Measures

The LA Times editorial board also took exception to several of the selling points proponents of either initiative have made in their arguments. For example, both cite that a regulated sports betting market would cut into the pervasive black market of illegal bookies and uncontrolled offshore sportsbooks. However, the editorial said similar claims were made about legalizing marijuana in the state six years ago. Today, the legal market only accounts for about 25% of pot sales, with licensed retailers complaining that the taxes hinder their ability to compete with street dealers.

The editorial also casts a skeptical eye on Prop 27’s claims that a 10% tax on commercial sports betting revenues would solve the state’s homelessness problem. Under the measure, 85% of the tax receipts would go to fund programs for the homeless and for mental health. The remainder would go to tribal nations not participating in sports betting.

“As the state budget overflowed with surplus dollars the last two years, California lawmakers committed $13.5 billion to provide shelter and services to people who lack homes,” the editorial stated. “Taxes from sports betting would provide an ongoing source of funding, but the amount may not wind up being a game-changer.”

Prop 26 also raised some red flags from the editorial board. It pointed to the language that could open the door for more lawsuits against California’s cardroom casinos, which have butted heads with tribal casinos for years. It also noted that animal welfare groups have opposed racetracks’ involvement.

“Although Proposition 26 aligns with California voters’ past support for allowing gambling on tribal land, the measure amounts to a toxic brew of industry interests designed not only to enrich the funders, but also to push away their competitors,” the paper said.

Sports Betting a ‘Foolish Scheme’

Across the US, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting. California, as the country’s most populous state, would become a market leader in the country if online betting is legalized.

However, the Times editorial concludes, just because other states have taken that step doesn’t mean California should do it, too. The editorial calls sports betting a “foolish scheme” and said either proposition “would usher in a troubling expansion of gaming” that would likely lead to more people developing problem gambling issues.

“The amount of money some Americans now blow on sports bets should raise concerns about their financial health,” the editorial said. “In just one month last year, sports gamblers wagered $7 billion — a 20-fold increase from three years earlier. That’s money they’re not spending in other parts of the economy, or worse, money they borrowed that they may not be able to pay back.”

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