California Propositions 26 and 27 Dealt Blow Ahead of November Ballot

  • Propositions 26 and 27 deal with creating sports betting markets in California
  • According to a UC Berkeley poll, neither measure is likely to pass
  • Voters exposed to advertisements are being turned off, per an expert
  • Both Republicans and Democrats oppose Prop. 27, Republicans are against Prop. 26
Frustrated man getting a thumbs-down from a co-worker
According to a recent poll, Californians do not support sports betting Propositions 26 and 27. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

An expensive failure

Proposition 26 and Proposition 27, two pro-sports betting measures set to appear on the upcoming California ballot, could be facing a dismal future.

the likelihood that voters approve either measure is minute

According to a study by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies co-commissioned by The Los Angeles Times, the likelihood that voters approve either measure is minute. If accurate, the result would be a massive hit to interested parties that have contributed over $410m to pushing the initiatives to the ballot.

The poll was not representative of the entire population, but has cast serious doubt over the future of California sports betting. If neither measure receives a majority vote, three of the United States’ biggest markets (California, Florida, and Texas) will enter 2023 without legal sports gambling.

Poll results

The bickering over Propositions 26 and 27 has been non-stop for the past year. 

Smaller native tribes claimed an opposing stance for fear that they would lose their sovereignty if mega corporations joined the market. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball continued its push for gambling by supporting Proposition 27 lobbyists.

Prop. 27 opens the door to large-scale, commercial integration of gambling. According to the study conducted on 6,939 Californians, a fitting 27% of likely voters were in support of the idea, while 53% were opposed.

Prop. 26 restricts gambling to in-person tribal locations and race tracks, but would allow for the creation of larger casinos and resorts. Although less controversial, this idea received only 31% support and still 42% opposition.

Many respondents noted that they had seen television advertisements promoting or condemning the measures. Berkeley IGS poll director Mark DiCamillo said that the ads could have had a direct influence on those who were polled.

the advertising is not helping”

“I think it’s the negative advertisements that have kind of been turning voters away,” said DiCamillo. “People who haven’t seen the ads are about evenly divided, but people who’ve seen a lot of ads are against it. So, the advertising is not helping.”

The unmoving support is not for a lack of trying. Sports gambling giants such as FanDuel and DraftKings are heavily invested in creating a California market and have been throwing their weight around all year. Interested companies would need to pay $100m and partner with a local tribe to gain entry into the market. Tribes could also pay a $10m fee to offer standalone betting services.

Proposition 27 a resounding flop

California’s four largest Native American tribes heavily support Prop. 26. If passed, tribes would pay a 10% tax on revenue to help fight gambling addiction. In total, more than 30 tribes support Prop. 26.

Meanwhile, only three tribes have pledged support for Prop. 27, while 51 are opposed to it. Prop. 27 is a more industry-friendly measure and would strip the tribes of much of their current power, as well as the autonomy they would enjoy under Prop. 26.

trying to spend their way out of a political hole”

Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego, said that industry giants attempting to gain access to California’s market are “trying to spend their way out of a political hole,” one that is reflected by the unfavorable polling results.

Kousser also claimed that the bombardment of advertising is a turn-off to many likely voters. 

“[Voters] start saying this is about some wealthy interests trying to buy this election,” Kousser said. “Anytime you spend massive amounts, it triggers that instinct in voters.”

A majority of Democrats and Republicans opposed Proposition 27, while Republicans were also profoundly against Prop. 26. Younger voters and sports fans viewed the measures the most favorably of the different demographics.

According to the poll, respondents were asked questions online, and answers were weighted to match census and voter registration data. The future of Props. 26 and 27 will be decided during the California elections on November 8.