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KPBS Midday Edition

Sports betting on the ballot in California: Props 26 and 27

California voters are seeing two sports betting propositions this election cycle in Proposition 26 and Proposition 27.

Collectively, nearly $600 million has been raised in opposition and support. Both would amend the state constitution to allow for sports wagering in California.

Proposition 26 would introduce dice games like roulette and in-person sports wagering at tribal casinos. It also would permit sports betting at four race tracks in California, including in Del Mar.

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"People betting will have to show their identification," said Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Yes on 26, No on 27 campaign. "Someone will check their IDs and, make sure that they are adults, and following the law and gambling legally."

Fairbanks represents a coalition of business groups and more than 50 California tribes. From San Diego County the Barona Band of Mission Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation are among those who have contributed to the campaign. Under Prop. 26, tribes would need to work with the state to determine government payouts and racetracks would be required to pay 10% of daily bets, minus payouts.

"The independent, nonpartisan legislative analyst says Prop. 26 will result in tens of millions of dollars going to California coffers to fund state priorities like education, transportation — even homelessness efforts," said Fairbanks.

A majority of those profits would go into the states general fund, with the rest split between gambling programs and compliance. California's Legislative Analyst's Office said in its analysis of Prop. 26's potential revenues, "The size of this increase is uncertain, but could reach tens of millions of dollars annually."

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Get general information about the election, news coverage, an interactive ballot guide, and results on election day.

Proposition 27 would legalize online sports betting for tribes and online gambling companies. Those businesses would have to partner with a tribe to get a license. It is backed by betting companies like Fanduel and Draftkings, along with a few smaller tribes in Northern California.

"Twenty five other states have legalized online sports betting," said Nathan Click, spokesperson for the Yes on 27 campaign. "They’re proving you can do so safely and responsibly and create real revenue for states."

Under Prop. 27, 10% of betting profits would go into a fund to address homelessness with a smaller portion of that split among tribes without casinos.

"The state’s independent auditor takes a look at every initiative that crosses its path," Click said. "They found only Prop. 27 would raise hundreds of millions each year that would go directly to homeless and mental health support."

California's Legislative Analyst's Office said in its analysis of Prop. 27's potential revenues, "The increase could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, but likely would not be more than $500 million annually."

Prop. 27 is supported locally by the CEO of San Diego’s Regional Task Force on Homelessness, Tamera Kohler.

"I’m supportive of whatever it takes to get dedicated, committed funding on a permanent basis," Kohler said. "This funding is also not just for supporting housing solutions but also mental health, behavioral health, treatment supports and above all housing."

If Prop. 26 passes, it would mean a sports book could open at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. President and Chief Operating Officer Josh Rubinstein said his organization supports the measure. He thinks year-round sports betting would help the horse racing business and increase tax revenue.

"In terms of foot traffic for these local businesses — you would think for busy events like the Super Bowl and Final Four — that would translate to additional business for North San Diego County," Rubinstein said.

Voters have been hammered with online and television advertisements from both propositions. Yet, a UC Berkeley-LA Times poll from earlier this month found the measures polling under 50%. Another poll released this week from ABC 10 News and the San Diego Union Tribune reports 37% of those surveyed would vote in favor of Prop. 26 with 27% in favor of Prop. 27. Both need a simple majority to pass.

"The tribe's priority from day one — since [Prop.] 27 showed up — was to defeat that measure," Fairbanks said. "So we are looking at the poll results in a positive light because our number one priority is being met."

Click with the Yes on 27 campaign said they are undaunted.

"The voters I talk to they understand completely we need a solution to homelessness," he said. "They support online sports betting and it’s a win-win for the state of California."

For more information and who else is supporting the propositions visit the KPBS Voter Hub.

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