What happens if Californians pass two sports betting initiatives?

From Grace Gedi, CalMatters

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

And then, a little further down in their bulletin, 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 in the November vote. This has been curtailed from earlier this year, when four different initiatives were in play.

Of the other two measures, one is already eligible to vote in November, and the other is expected soon.

Here is what each initiative does

The California Sports Betting Regulation and the Gambling Act is backed by a group of Native American tribes and is currently eligible to vote. This will allow tribal casinos and the country’s four horse racing tracks to offer sports betting. This will also allow tribal casinos to expand their gambling offerings to roulette and dice.

Meanwhile, the California Homelessness and Mental Health Decisions Act has been backed by several major sports betting companies, including FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. This will 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 the signatures for this initiative – if they are valid enough, they will also be eligible to vote.

Here’s what happens if they both pass

California sometimes ends up with newsletters that have multiple initiatives on the same topic.

If one passes and the others do not, then there is no problem: the one who passes enters into force, the others do not.

If they all pass and do not come into conflict with each other, they can all come into force.

But if more than one pass and they are in conflict with each other, the one who adopted with a higher difference than the votes “for” enters into force, and the other does not, according to The Constitution of California.

The initiative, backed by FanDduel, DraftKkings and BetMGM, claims that it does not contradict the measure, which allows sports betting in tribal lands, and that if both pass, both will take effect. The measure, supported by the tribes, says nothing about whether it contradicts other measures.

So, if both initiatives pass – and The initiative, backed by FanDuel and DraftKings, has a higher margin – the chances are that both measures will take effect, said Ian Imric, a Southern California lawyer whose practice includes gaming law. But if both pass, and the tribal measure passes by a higher margin, the lawyers of the tribal measure could argue in court that the two measures are in conflict to try to prevent the entry into force of the measure supported by FanDuel and DraftKings.

Duplicate other ballots

This is not the first time there has been more than one initiative on the same topic. In 2016 there was two initiatives related to the death penalty and two for plastic bags.

Legislators can also mediate deals between supporters of the initiative. In 2014, the deputies passed the bill which allowed supporters to take their measures off the ballot closer to the election, giving them more time to potentially reach a deal. In April, for example, MPs contract deals between groups of patients, consumer lawyers and medical professionals, passing a law that increases the penalties that victims of medical abuse may seek, and preventing costly battles on the subject.

In February, when four sports betting initiatives were combined, state legislators Anthony Randon and Tony Atkins expressed interest in reaching a compromise over sports betting.

“I think it’s always confusing for voters when there are multiple ballots on the same point,” said Senate Sen. Tony Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, at a Sacramento press club event. “If you want to see progress, it’s useful to make it simpler, so I think there may be an opportunity (to negotiate a deal),” Atkins said.

When CalMatters asked Atkins’ office if lawmakers were still considering a deal, a spokesman said they were still investigating.

How Californians feel

The majority of Californians believe that the initiative process needs to be changed, according to a research conducted by the California Institute for Public Policy in April. More than 90% of Kaliorans strongly or strongly agree that the wording of voting measures is often too confusing for voters to understand what happens if the initiative is approved, and 56% said that special interests control much of the process.

Most initiatives do not work, and Mark Baldassare, the institute’s president, said the likelihood of adopting a measure decreases even more if voters are confused by it.

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

“People are reluctant to read things up close. And often what is included in the title of the bulletin can be misleading, “Moylan said. “So this is especially dangerous in a situation where you have multiple initiatives on the same or a similar topic.”


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