Published: July 23, 2022

California's mayor union AFSCME opposing tribal ballot measure as lines are drawn in the sports betting legalization battle

A major player in California politics unveiled Thursday its stance on the sports betting measures that will be on the November ballot. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 36 has announced its opposition to Proposition 26, a proposed constitutional amendment with the backing of most tribal gaming entities that would allow retail sportsbooks at Indian casinos and state-licensed racetracks.

The Los Angeles-based council represents 60 local unions and 20,000 union workers across California. It argues the measure “could result in $500 million in lost tax revenue for California communities.” Joining AFSCME District Council 36 in opposition to the initiative are AFSCME Local 773, AFSCME Local 3624, and AFSCME Local 3947.

"Proposition 26 puts $500 million in local tax revenue at risk due to the poison pill that will bankrupt community cardrooms. And when city revenue is slashed, public employee jobs like mine are on the line," said Shavon Moore-Cage, a member of AFSCME Local 36 Management Chapter. "This is not just some hypothetical statement. I can tell you from experience what happens to city workers when cardrooms are forced to shut down."

The statement was released Thursday afternoon by Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies, a political committee sponsored by licensed card clubs in California. Cardrooms claim Prop 26 would amend the State Constitution to guarantee tribal casinos “a near monopoly on all gaming in California” by not only providing them with control over in-person sports betting but by adding exclusivity over roulette and craps, in addition to an existing monopoly on slots.

Cardrooms are also opposing a provision that would “weaponize” the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) “so it can be used against tribal casino operators’ legally-operating competition.” Cardrooms argue this change allows private entities to file complaints through the PAGA against organizations they accuse of illegal gambling practices: tribal casinos would be able to hire private trial lawyers and replace the role of the Attorney General to sue competitors.

“As a result, the measure puts more than 32,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in total economic impact at risk,” the AFSCME District Council 36 statement reads. “Cities rely on this revenue for resident services such as public safety, housing and homeless programs.”

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