In the November 2022 election, California voters will be asked to decide on two competing ballot initiatives (Prop 26 & Prop 27) regarding gambling. Reform California has a simple voter guide that explains Prop 26 in “Plain English” and reveals why there is a poison pill hidden inside it.
Seven statewide ballot measures will appear on California’s November 2022 ballot - two of which (Props 26 & 27) deal with gambling.
Prop 26 is backed by several Native American tribes and would reinforce the rights of federally-recognized Native American tribes to operate roulette, dice games, and sports wagering on tribal lands. Prop 26 also expands gambling beyond tribal communities to authorize on-site sports wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in specified counties for ages 21 and up.
There’s no doubt that gambling operations on tribal lands in California has been a big success and benefits state taxpayers and tribes alike. Had Prop 26 been written to simply reaffirm the existing successful approach to tribal gaming, the measure would be worthy of support - but sadly it contains a hidden poison pill that will have devastating impacts on California.
Specifically Prop 26 expands the destructive use of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) that has devastated thousands of small businesses across California in recent years. PAGA allows unscrupulous trial attorneys to shake down small businesses that cannot afford to fight back in court due to high costs.
PAGA has led to countless frivolous lawsuits, hundreds of millions of dollars in legal costs to small businesses, and destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs in California. Because of the significant damage being done by PAGA, a bipartisan coalition of business groups and taxpayer watchdogs are seeking to reform PAGA in the 2024 election with a separate ballot measure.
Prop 26 adds fuel to the PAGA inferno of destruction by expanding its use to existing gambling entities.
Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California, says that while he strongly supports Prop 26’s intention to protect Native American gaming rights in California, the PAGA poison pill makes support for the measure impossible.
“We cannot empower unscrupulous lawyers to continue to shakedown small businesses using frivolous lawsuits under PAGA - which is the only reason why we are urging a NO vote on Prop 26,” DeMaio notes.
“There’s no doubt that Native American gaming has been a win-win for California taxpayers and tribal communities alike, but Prop 26 is not the way to protect that successful system,” DeMaio concludes.
California became the birthplace of Indian casinos in 1987 with the Supreme Court decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, which ruled that tribes can run casinos outside of the state’s jurisdiction. Since 1987, Californians have supported Indian gaming by passing protections such as Proposition 1A in 2000, which approved gaming on reservation lands. The rise of these Indian casinos have lifted tribes out of poverty and provided jobs for both the Indian and non-Indian communities.
Reform California has put together what DeMaio calls a “Plain English” annual voter guide which cuts through the confusing ballot language and clutter and explains your ballot in simple terms. The organization has analyzed Prop 26 and issued the following assessment.
- Official Title: Allows In-Person Roulette, Dice Games, Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
- Plain English Translation: Protects Tribal Gaming Rights, But Enriches Trial Lawyers Through More Frivolous Lawsuits
- Prop 26 affirms the current practice of allowing only federally-recognized Native American tribes to operate roulette, dice games, and sports wagering on tribal lands, subject to compacts negotiated by the Governor and ratified by the Legislature. It would also allow on-site sports wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in specified counties for ages 21 and up. Unfortunately, the measure contains a “poison pill” to expand the use of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to allow unscrupulous trial attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits to shakedown small businesses.
DeMaio and Reform California recommend a “NO” vote on Prop 26.
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