California sports betting complicated by special interests, competing ballot-initiated propositions

This is Part II of KTLA’s two-part series on Propositions 26 and 27. For Part I, click here.

In Colorado, placing a bet on your favorite sports team doesn’t take much effort.

“It’s really easy. You know, you get online, all the apps, you know, are pretty easy,” said Broncos fan David Lewis.

“Being able to come in person, online, wherever you’d like to go, I feel that it is super easy now to do so,” added Colorado resident Kamil Kowalewicz.

But the way Colorado got to legalized sports betting is much different than the way California is trying to get there.

California’s Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 were the results of ballot initiatives written and pushed by groups that would benefit from them.

Prop 27, for instance, would allow online sports betting. Understandably, two of its biggest supporters are FanDuel and DraftKings.

But large Native American tribes like the ones that run the Pechanga and Graton casinos strongly oppose Prop 27 and, as one might imagine, support Prop 26, which only allows in-person gambling at casinos and some horse racing tracks.

In contrast, Colorado’s 2019 Proposition DD legalized both online and in-person sports betting. It was created not by ballot initiative but by the state legislature, which held hearings and brought in potentially competing interests before finalizing the language that would be put to Colorado voters.

“So we tried to bring anybody who would have an interest in the issue and start talking about what is the model look like, what should we do in Colorado?,” said Peggi O’Keefe, executive director of the Colorado Gaming Association.

California tried that approach, with state Sen. Bill Dodd and others attempting to pass legislation in 2019 and 2020.

“I, for one, believe that we ought to bring sports betting out of the shadows in a manner that provides the best deal for the state of California,” Dodd said.

However, legislative efforts fizzled, leaving November’s dueling propositions.

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