The California-Hawaii chapter of the NAACP has filed a lawsuit against itself. Or so it seems. At issue is Proposition 26—the measure would legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and certain race tracks. It will be on the California ballot in November.
To be clear, the organization supports the proposition itself. What they do not support are comments from Minnie Hadley-Hempstead of the Los Angeles NAACP branch which ended up in ballot materials. The comments oppose the bill, and that’s what prompted the suit.
The California-Hawaii branch wants Hadley-Hempstead’s remarks removed, saying they do not represent the views of the state organization, which has precedence.
“We oppose Prop 26 to protect young people from developing lifelong gambling addictions that often lead to ruined finances, relationships, even homelessness and crime,” said the statement attributed to Hadley-Hempstead, a retired principal and president emeritus of the Los Angeles NAACP chapter.
Arguments in support of the measure maintain it would be a “responsible approach” to allowing sports wagering, “promote self-reliance” for California’s tribes, and financially support public schools. The California-Hawaii NAACP lawsuit was filed on August 2 in the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County.
The NAACP bylaws prohibit local branches from taking positions contrary to that of the state group.
“NAACP is proud to stand with California Indian tribes in strong support of Prop 26 to help preserve and further Indian self-reliance,” Rick Callender, president of the California-Hawaii NAACP, said in a statement. “We are outraged that the cardroom casinos and their No On 26 campaign would deceptively use the NAACP name in its arguments despite our strong support.”
The lawsuit says Hadley-Hempstead asked for her statement to be removed after she learned the NAACP actually supports the measure.
If approved by a majority of voters, Prop 26 would allow on-site sports wagering at tribal casinos and the four major horse tracks operational year-round, including Santa Anita Park and Los Alamitos Race Course.
If voters say no, sports betting would remain illegal in California, and tribal casinos would still be banned from offering dice games and roulette.
Then there’s Prop 27, which would legalize online and mobile sports wagering through tribes and affiliated businesses on non-tribal lands.
The California-Hawaii NAACP has “grave concerns” for Prop 27. Critics say Prop 27 benefits out-of-state corporations instead of helping California address California’s needs.
It is common for individuals or entities to challenge the information presented on the voter information guide during this public display period through legal avenues. And should a court order the secretary of state to amend the language, the office would do so, a spokesperson confirmed.
Other opponents of Prop 26 claim the ballot measure could cause a massive expansion of gambling in California, leave workers unprotected, and put card clubs out of business.