Election 2020: A look at sports figures on ballots and what states could add sports betting

USA TODAY Sports staff

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From gambling to hunting and fishing to a controversial WNBA figure to a former NFL player and a former major college coach, Tuesday’s elections feature a variety of sports-related decisions.

Three states – Maryland, Louisiana, South Dakota – will vote on distinctly different sports betting proposals. According to Ballotpedia.org, as of last month, 22 states had passed laws that legalize sports betting, along with the District of Columbia. Tennessee is the latest to go live, having started Sunday.

Maryland Question 2 would “authorize the General Assembly to pass a law allowing the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue licenses to offer betting in the State on sports and other competitive events,” according to the Secretary of State’s website. Revenue would go toward funding public education.

A proposition to allow sports betting by the parish in Louisiana will be voted on separately in every one of the state’s 64 parishes, according to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Under this act, sports betting would be permitted in any parish where the majority of voters say yes – but not until state laws and regulations are adopted.

In South Dakota, Constitutional Amendment B would legalize sports betting in one city, Deadwood, where there are existing casinos. The “net local revenue” would go to “the Historic Restoration and Preservation of Deadwood.”

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Two U.S. Senate races involve sports figures.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, is up for election after being appointed to her seat last December. A co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, Loeffler was embroiled in controversy and criticized by players around the league – including on her own team – after she openly objected to the WNBA’s plan for anti-racism messages and suggested the players put American flags on their jerseys. She also told Fox News that Black Lives Matter “is based on Marxist principles” that threaten to “destroy” America.

That led WNBA players on three teams, including the Dream, to wear “Vote Warnock” T-shirts supporting her senate opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat.

This is a special election with several candidates where a runoff is likely. Warnock, who credits the WNBA support for his campaign’s surge, held a slight lead coming out of the weekend, according to a Landmark Communications poll.

Tommy Tuberville, a former head football coach at Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Cincinnati, is running as a Republican in Alabama for the U.S. Senate. He defeated former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the primary and takes on Sen. Doug Jones, the Democratic incumbent who won his seat in a special election in 2017.

Tuberville is a staunch Trump supporter in a majority red state.

In Utah, Republican Burgess Owens, who won a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders in 1981, is running in the state’s 4th Congressional District against Democrat Ben McAdams. Owens played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Jets and Raiders. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, his books include, “Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps.”

A proposal on the ballot in Owens’ state involves outdoor sports. Utah Constitutional Amendment E would establish a “constitutional right to hunt and fish in Utah,” according to Ballotpedia.org. If it passes, it would also make hunting and fishing the state’s preferred method of managing wildlife, according to The Spectrum in St. George, Utah.

“This bill is not only about protecting who we are, but preserving who we are going forward,” said House Sponsor Rep. Casey Snider, according to Ballotpedia.org. “It is not unforeseeable, and history bears this out, that 30 or 40 or 50 years from now, those participating in [hunting and fishing] will be a very significant minority, more so than they already are. It is not a foregone conclusion that these sort of activities will be eliminated from the public sphere and from conservation generally and at large.”

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