California Political Campaign Spend for Sports Betting Could Reach Record $500m by November Vote

  • Two propositions on the ballot seek to legalize California betting in different forms
  • Political ad budgets so far relating to these propositions have already reached $350m
  • One proposition is aiming for retail-only betting, while the other seeks online betting
  • DraftKings and FanDuel have already contributed $150m to a Prop 27 campaign
US dollar bills
Political ad spend in California regarding sports betting propositions could reach half a billion dollars by the time of the November ballot, according to experts. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Record-breaking sums

Multiple groups have attempted to legalize sports betting in California for some time. In a landmark moment this year, a couple of betting-related propositions have made it onto the November ballot, and opposing groups are spending huge sums to try to secure votes.

total spend could reach half a billion dollars

To date, political advertising budgets relating to the two betting measures, Proposition 26 and 27, add up to about $350m. By the time the November ballot comes around, experts believe that the total spend could reach half a billion dollars, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The previous record expenditure relating to a ballot measure in California came in 2020 when ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber attempted to make changes to the state’s labor laws. A total of $224m went towards that particular campaign.

Two propositions

The big question facing Californians is whether they want to introduce significant gambling expansion and, if so, which groups will reap the most benefits.

calling for the legalization of online sports betting

Proposition 26 is attempting to introduce legal retail sports betting at horse race tracks and tribal casinos. Proposition 27, meanwhile, is calling for the legalization of online sports betting, with the state’s tribes able to partner with commercial betting operators, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, to launch mobile wagering.

Backers of the two measures have already rolled out extensive ad campaigns. Ads from team Proposition 27, a coalition including BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel, are attempting to convince viewers that online sports betting would lead to such significant tax revenue that it could help fix the state’s serious homelessness issue.

In contrast, ads for the tribal-backed Proposition 26 claim that online sportsbooks would only benefit greedy corporations and lead to widespread gambling addiction.

An untapped market

As California is by far the country’s most populous state, it offers a major sports betting market with untapped potential. Experts have estimated that the market would be worth about $3bn. This is why anyone with an interest in the gambling space is fighting tooth and nail in the state.

DraftKings and FanDuel are the two biggest spenders in California. They have committed $150m to a campaign to support Proposition 27. Numerous casino-owning tribes have pledged $92m to promote Proposition 26, while other tribes have donated $66m to oppose Proposition 27. Finally, cardrooms have contributed $41m to oppose Proposition 26.

The propositions only require a simple majority in order to pass. As of yet, it is not clear what will happen if both of the propositions receive voter approval.