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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sports Betting Trounced at California Polls

  • California voters resoundingly rejected two propositions that would have legalized sports betting.
  • Prop 27 was the most expensive ballot measure in state history.
California-sports-betting-vote
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

California resoundingly rejected two ballot measures that would have legalized sports betting.

With 42% of the vote counted, Proposition 26, which would have legalized sports betting on tribal lands and at race tracks, had been rejected by 70.4% of voters. Prop 27, which would have legalized mobile sports betting, was doing even worse, with 83.3% of voters saying no.

  • The committee supporting Prop 27, which received major funding from DraftKings, FanDuel, and Penn National Gaming, raised $170.2 million to the opposition’s $238.1 million
  • Prop 27 was the most expensive ballot measure in state history.
  • Prop 26 supporters raised $121 million to the opposition’s $43.9 million.

“The industry spectacularly messed this up,” Gambling.com Group CEO Charles Gillespie told Front Office Sports, citing Prop 27 campaign messaging that focused on homelessness funding with little mention of sports betting.

What’s Next?

California could still legalize sports betting through its legislature.

“The large commercial sportsbooks are going to have a few private conversations with the tribes and try to strike a deal,” said Gillespie. “If they can’t, you’ll have another ballot initiative in 2024, and the commercial sportsbooks are potentially going to be a lot less deferential to the tribes.” 

Gillespie noted that some sportsbook company CEOs are likely “relieved that California is not regulated,” because launching in the nation’s most populous state would be very expensive. 

Sports betting is legal in some form in 33 states, per Action Network, with some still sorting out regulations and lawsuits.

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