The writing on (and off) the wall: The prop bets of 26 and 27, measured by your desire to be bamboozled

Tom Hoffarth /

Since the Official California Sample Ballot officially arrived in our home mail box, we’re officially forced to come to terms that State Measure 26 and State Measure 27 will appear on the Nov. 8 election.

Game on.

Just look at ‘em. Properly coded and aligned graphically as two of the seven life-altering referendums that also address reproductive freedom, reduced air pollution, music education in the schools, flavored tobacco sales and more rigmarole about kidney dialysis clinics.

Also known as Prop 26 and 27, per the paid ads that choke off any spare TV airtime and billboard space, the general idea here is that the state is properly asking if you’d like to engage in the exciting world of sports wagering, and, if so, where would you like your mounting losses go — toward benefiting the current tribal land casino structure or the expansion of mobile and online companies miles away from where the damage is done?

The entirety of Prop 26 comes weighs in at 15 pages, while Prop 27’s submission rambles on for 65 pages. Neither are easy reads.

But ultimately, this isn’t a pick-your-poison decision.

You can simply vote “no” and “no thanks” and we’ll all be better off.

If the only thing you come away with here is a link to the most important thing we’ve read on the subject — Christopher Caldwell’s piece for Compact Magazine titled: “America’s Bad Bet on Sports Gambling” – and then decide to vote yes, your disconnect is beyond reasoning.

Those who stand to profit most from this are measuring us up for sports gaming enthusiasts, because all the cool kids around this country are on board, and, as far as they know, none have resorted to 1-800-GAMBLER confessionals.

The con has premeditated dozens of states already. This is a chance for California to show restraint beyond its otherwise progressive nature.

Based on ads, a good number of voters won’t even know this is a sports-wagering prop bet, led instead to believe it will help the homeless crisis. That’s as far from reality, and insulting to those who are a home-need situation.

A month ago, when the Los Angeles Times editorial board came out with its no-endorsement of both, it was clearly pointed out: “If the companies that own betting platforms and the tribes that run casinos have their way, California will be the next state to embrace this foolish scheme. … The normalization of sports betting has been egged on by betting platforms, athletic leagues and media companies, which see profit in convincing people to gamble away their dollars. That’s why gambling interests are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Propositions 26 and 27 — blasting through past spending records on state ballot measures.”

The San Francisco Chronicle agrees. The Orange County Register/Southern California News Group seems to get it. As does the Sacramento Bee.

It’s obscene, really, when one considers the record-breaking amounts spent supporting and denouncing both propositions versus what could really be put to better social use. Most has come from the pro-27 camp of DraftKings, Fanduel, BetMGM, Ballys and other enterprises that stand to benefit most from its passage.

Follow the money, right?

If you’ve been in a city where tax payer dollars were once approved to help an already well-to-do sports-team owner finance a new facility, you are aware enough of what’s happening here.

A month from now we’ll see the outcome of a huge misguided bet that our state citizenry is gullible enough to be bamboozled into believing the outright lies and bait-and-switch tactics that seem to perfectly mirror the entire business ways of both measures. It’s a tough business to avoid, when so many media companies and sports leagues normalize its look, feel and simplicity of participation.

And if/when support fails for the sports gaming in California this time, it will likely return in a two years, crafted differently, with the same major players trying to yell over each other.

Don’t wait up dazed and confused about how there are really two choices to vote on here. It’s not an either-or proposition. Those in the industry of earning an income based on your naïve nature about how gambling works may even couch this as a way where you really could support both ballot measures and come away all the better.

Don’t wait until you see your college-aged kid plop down in front of the TV set to watch a Major League Baseball game he cares nothing about, just to see if either team scores in the first inning and he’s successfully wagered the correct way.

Now you’re into a world of NRFIs and YRFIs, and there’s the red flag warning of a tsumami of ignorance about to cascade into your life.

Not here. Not now.

Two thumbs down.

One more way to incentivize you: If this doesn’t pass, fewer will come to visit and more may even move away to get their fix.

Ballots will start being mailed out Oct. 10. Last day to officially register for this election is Oct. 24. Before all that, you’re free to buy a lottery ticket and help the local school system pay its teachers.

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