California Educators, Top Legislators Oppose Online Sports Betting Measure

More California leaders have come out against Proposition 27, the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize online sports betting statewide. On Wednesday, two education-related groups announced their opposition to one of two sports betting measures going before California voters in less than three months.

California State Capitol
The California State Capitol in Sacramento. In the past two days officials from two top state education groups as well as top Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have announced their opposition to Proposition 27, which would legalize online sports betting in the state. (Image: Capitol Museum)

That followed similar statements made by legislative leaders from both parties the day before.

The California Federation of Teachers (CFT), a union representing more than 120,000 education workers, and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), a professional group representing 17,000 education leaders, expressed different reasons for their positions.

CFT President Jeff Freitas raised concerns about funding for education in his statement. He added that sports betting can be “highly addictive” for kids and other at-risk groups.

“Prop 27 will also put California’s students at risk by failing to invest revenue in our state’s education system,” Freitas said. “This measure is a bad deal for California and for our public schools.”

Prop 27 calls for a 10% tax on sports betting revenues. Of that, 85% would go toward programs to fight homelessness and support mental health. The remainder would go toward tribal economic development initiatives. Commercial sports betting operators would pay $100 million for licenses. Tribal entities also can go online for $10 million. However, they face restrictions in how they can label their app.

The CFT joins the state’s other teacher’s union, the California Teachers Association, in opposing the measure. That organization, which represents more than 300,000 educators, formally announced its position in late May.

School Admins Fear Youth Access Online

Erin Simon, the ACSA president, said her organization’s members have concerns about exposing children to mobile gaming.

“Proposition 27 would turn virtually every cell phone, laptop and tablet into a gambling device giving youth unprecedented access to gambling at their fingertips,” she said. “Our communities should be focused on protecting children and the danger Proposition 27 poses for youth cannot be understated.”

The legal age for sports betting in California would be 21 if voters pass the measure on Nov. 8. When registering for an account, licensed sportsbooks require information that prove the account holder’s identity, including their age.

Legislative Leaders Join in Opposition to Prop 27

Educators aren’t the only ones who have lined up against the online sports betting initiative. Late Tuesday, the Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of California’s state legislature announced their opposition to the measure.

The statements from Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R-Tuba City) were released by “Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming,” a tribal-backed organization that opposes Prop 27.

California’s tribes have proven to be safe and responsible operators of gaming in California, providing benefits to their communities and to their members,” Atkins said. “I stand with tribal governments in opposition to Prop 27 and support their right to operate gaming facilities on their lands.”

The Republican leaders feared the measure would undercut the tribes, which operate 62 casinos across the state.

“We need to protect tribal sovereignty and gaming in California,” Gallagher said. “Prop 27 threatens the current system, approved by voters, that allows tribes to use their lands to be self-reliant while also providing tremendous benefit to the communities they serve.”

The legislative leaders’ statements come a month after the California Democratic Party Executive Board voted to oppose the measure.

None of their remarks mentioned Proposition 26, the other sports betting measure on the ballot. That measure would allow tribal casinos and state-licensed racetracks to offer retail sportsbooks in their facilities. Prop 26 also allows tribal casinos to offer roulette and dice-based table games.

Most tribes in the state have expressed opposition to Prop 27. However, at least three smaller tribes have publicly expressed support for the online measure.

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