The costliest initiative process in California history is shaking out before our eyes concerning the future of sports betting.
Two competing initiatives (Props. 26 and 27) have garnered more than $350 million so far, between those who support and oppose each measure.
That figure surpasses 2020’s proposition on gig workers that was supported by Uber and others as the most expensive campaign in the state’s history, per Bloomberg News.
Proponents of Prop. 26, also known as the Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative, hope to legalize retail sports betting at tribal casinos and licensed racetracks in the state.
The main backers of that proposition are the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, all of whom have dropped at least $10 million in support.
The supporters of Prop. 27 (aka, the Legalize Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness Prevention Fund Initiative) include online sports betting powers, such as BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Bally’s, Penn National Gaming, and Rush Street Interactive — all of whom have spent at least $12.5 million apiece to get the measure across the finish line.
Prop. 27 aims to legalize online California sports betting while using 85% of all tax revenue to address homelessness and mental health services in California.
So far, more money has been raised on the “No on 27” side ($114.1 million) than the “Yes on 27” camp ($100 million), with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians all spending at least $10 million to bankroll the anti-Prop. 27 side.
Prop. 27 Gets Support From Major League Baseball
The net result of months’ worth of fundraising is we are still unsure whether either proposition will clear the 50% needed on Election Day to become law.
That’s the takeaway from longtime gambling analyst Brendan Bussmann, who serves as a managing partner for B Global.
“I think [Prop. 27] is experiencing a lot of headwinds,” Bussmann told BetCalifornia.com. “And I say that for a host of different reasons. Both political parties have come out against it, which makes up about 70% of the electorate if they vote straight-ticket over everything. And you see a lot of negative ads out there off of it. So, they’ve got to survive the headwinds they’re taking on and figure out how to get that message through to voters.”
Prop. 27 did get good news two weeks ago, when Major League Baseball endorsed the California mobile sports betting initiative.
When and if mobile sports betting is legalized in the state, BetCalifornia will be the place for California sportsbook promos.
Will Either CA Sports Betting Measure Pass in November?
For Bussmann, the continued lag in support for the online sports betting measure stems directly from the lack of support from either political party in the state and the relentless stream of negative advertisements from the “No on 27” camp.
“It’s one of those things that you really see with any sort of ballot measure, you start to begin to die a death of 1,000 cuts, if you don’t have a strong enough base built-up going into this,” Bussmann said. “I’m not saying they can’t rebound, because obviously that’s why you run the race and why you do it. But when you start bringing out negative points, which is what’s taking up most of the airways right now, it’s easy to put doubts in voters’ minds, and bring that number down below 50%.”
Right now, Bussmann isn’t convinced either sports betting measure will pass this fall, given the mudslinging that’s taken place over the past few months.
But he’s convinced, one way or another, California will have sports betting in place before long.
For now, his advice for sports betting enthusiasts in California is to remain calm and watch which way the wind blows over the next six or so weeks, as anything is possible in the months ahead of a general election.
“I think, at some point, there’s going to be a reality check, where backers are going to ask, ‘Are we spending to spend money, or is there a chance that we can get this done?" Bussmann said. “… I think this is going to be hard-fought to the end. And some of this was foretold by what we saw 10-plus years ago with iGaming, where special interests came into California to try to get this done and the tribes were willing to spend whatever it took to say, ‘Hey, this is our region, all roads lead through us.’
“We have hit that proverbial point where it becomes a matter of figuring out how to regroup and seeing if they can get something across. But right now it doesn’t look like it’s in good shape.”
If sports betting passes in the Golden State, we could also potentially see the legalization of California online casinos down the road at some point as well.