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California AFSCME District Council 36 opposes tribal sports betting bill

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 36 has added its voice in opposition to Proposition 26, an upcoming sports betting measure to legalise sports betting at land-based, tribal locations in the Golden State.  

The bill is up for consideration on California’s November 2022 ballot, and AFSCME District Council 36 – which represents 60 local unions and 20,000 union workers – claims the bill will give tribal casinos “a near monopoly” over gaming in the state and “threaten to destroy local jobs.” 

Unlike the bill to legalise online sports betting  Proposition 27  Prop 26 passed legislative goalposts to get onto the state’s upcoming ballot.  

But AFSCME District Council 36 claims thousands of quality jobs in minority communities will be affected, as Prop 26 would give tribes exclusivity over roulette, craps and sports wagering, adding to their current monopoly over slot machines. 

Furthermore, the council claims the bill will allow tribes to weaponise the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) against any other legally operating competition.  

Perhaps the tribal threat of PAGA caused Prop 27 to fall short of reaching the ballot, despite Flutter and Entain pledging $100m to get online sports betting passed in California. 

Specifically, AFSCME District 36 claims passing Prop 26 would allow tribal casinos to hire private lawyers, replacing the role of the Attorney General to sue non-tribal competitors.  

The council says this would put 32,000 jobs, $1.6bn in wages and $5.5bn of total economic impact at risk.  

AFSCME Local 36 Management Chapter Member, Shavon Moore-Cage, said: “Prop 26 puts $500m 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. 

“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. I got laid off when our local cardroom had to close during the pandemic. And I don’t want any more of my union brothers and sisters to suffer that same fate – especially when it can be avoided.” 

AFSCME District Council 36 joins several organisations in public opposition to Prop 26, including the California Contract Cities Association, Gateway Cities Council of Government, and several mayors and elected officials representing Californian counties.  

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