California Sports Betting Won’t Get Approval in November Ballot, According to Analysts

  • The sports betting legalization measures will need to get at least 50% support from voters
  • Analysts believe that having two competing measures could confuse voters on the ballot
  • Ad campaign spending over the issue could break the state record by the time of the vote
  • The analysts have predicted California online betting could generate $2.8bn per year
Person voting
Certain prominent gaming analysts do not think that sports betting legalization measures in California will get sufficient voter support in November. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A pessimistic view

While various stakeholders are optimistic about the possibility of legal sports betting arriving in California soon, analysts believe that the November 8 ballot won’t provide that opportunity. Two sports betting legalization measures are headed for a public vote, both requiring a 50% approval rate to gain passage.

Analysts from the leading gambling industry consultancy firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming have predicted that neither of the ballot questions will get sufficient support. The company recently released a report regarding Proposition 26 and Proposition 27, stating that: “The political power and deep pockets of interests with dogs in this hunt … have us leaning negative on California’s sports betting legalization prospects this fall.”

differing messages from those competing to operate in the betting market

The analysts have provided various reasons for their pessimism regarding legalization efforts. This includes the differing messages from those competing to operate in the betting market, as well as the way in which voters will encounter the two ballot questions, which could cause confusion.

Two differing measures

Proposition 26, which has the backing of almost two dozen California tribes, would allow retail betting at race tracks and tribal casinos. It would also see tribal casinos offer roulette and dice games. Proposition 27, meanwhile, would facilitate the rollout of online sports betting, with private operators able to partner with tribal casinos to offer a state-wide product.

To date, the different interested parties have raised $364m for campaigns to support and oppose the two propositions. The political battle is on track to spend more than any other referendum campaign in the history of California. With a couple of months left to go until the vote, it is likely that the sum spent on these campaigns will only increase.

Speaking exclusively with VSO News recently, the spokesperson for No on Proposition 27, Kathy Fairbanks, said she is confident Proposition 26 will pass in November. “When voters understand that one is in-person and one is online, they very clearly have a bias against online gambling,” she stated.

High stakes

Despite their pessimism over betting’s chances on the ballot, Eilers & Krejcik analysts have predicted online sports betting would generate $2.8bn annually in California. Retail-only sportsbooks, meanwhile, would generate $1.3bn, according to the analysts.

three operators would control about 70% of the market

If online sports betting did receive approval, Eilers & Krejcik believes three operators would control about 70% of the market – FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM. These operators are already busy running ad campaigns in the state through television and radio sports networks.

Onlookers believe the license fee for an online sportsbook operator could reach $100m, meaning only the biggest operators would have the funds to join the market.