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Pair of sports betting proposals on California ballot

Two sports betting proposals will be on the ballot for California voters in November.

A proposal allowing online betting — backed by major sportsbooks including BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel — was certified for the ballot this week by the California secretary of state.

A previously approved proposal — backed by some of California’s Native American tribes with gaming interests — would allow only in-person betting at tribal casinos and horse racing tracks.

Voters can approve one, neither or both of the initiatives, with sports betting companies seeking entry into potentially their largest market yet since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for more states to legalize betting in 2018.

A poll released earlier this year from the University of California, Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times found 45 percent of voters in favor of allowing sports betting, 33 percent against and 22 percent undecided. The poll asked only about sports betting generally and did not specify a proposal.

If both proposals pass, courts might have to decide whether the initiatives can co-exist. Backers of the online proposal have said the measures can work in tandem, but backers of the tribal proposal have launched a campaign to defeat the online option.

Labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta lent her voice to the tribal proposal this week, saying in a statement to California media outlets that the online proposal “is a direct attack on Indian self-sufficiency that would also expose youth and the disadvantaged to the perils of online gaming.”

Under the online proposal, sportsbooks would still have to be aligned with Native American tribes in the state.

If both proposals pass and are ruled to be in conflict with each other, then the one that had the higher percentage of “yes” votes goes into effect.

Both proposals include provisions to help fund public programs. The online proposal is billed as “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act,” with roughly 85 percent of tax revenue going to homelessness programs.

The tribal proposal designates tax revenue to help combat problem gambling as well other government services, including education and public safety.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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