As November Nears, California Sports Betting Discussions Continue

In a few weeks, California voters will decide on the fate of sports betting in the Golden State. Many people, both residents of California and not, as well as industry experts and non-industry experts, have weighed in with their thoughts on the two sports betting initiatives that will be on the November ballot. 

Official Voter Guide Released, Formally Details Propositions

For a brief refresher on California sports betting: Prop 26 and Prop 27 both have spots on the ballot. Prop 27, proposed by commercial sports betting operators, seeks to legalize online sports betting in California in partnership with the state’s Indian tribes. 

Per the state’s official voter guide which outlines Prop 27, the initiative “allows Indian tribes and affiliated businesses to operate online/mobile sports wagering outside tribal lands. Directs revenues to regulatory costs, homelessness programs, and nonparticipating tribes.” It describes the potential fiscal impact as “increased state revenues, possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars but not likely to exceed $500 million annually. Some revenues would support state regulatory costs, possibly reaching the mid-tens of millions of dollars annually.”

These tribes referenced above have proposed the second initiative, Prop 26, which would not legalize online sports betting. Per the sample ballot, Prop 26 “allows in-person roulette, dice games, sports wagering on tribal lands.” It also allows sports wagering at certain horse racing tracks and private lawsuits to enforce gambling laws. The funds generated would be directed to the general fund, problem-gambling programs, and gambling enforcement. 

Circulating Opinions in California

If Californians hadn’t heard about this movement before, they likely have now. Both the state’s tribes and commercial operators have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into advertisements on cable television. Rare is it that a Californian can watch a sporting event without a Prop 27 or Prop 26 ad campaign being televised on a commercial break. 

Prop 27 has some public support in California including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. The rest of Steinberg’s jurisdiction may not agree as its very own newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, published an article claiming that both Prop 26 and Prop 27 have made “dodgy claims” and describes their television ads as ranging from “confusing to misleading.”

Suffice to say that Californians are getting their fair share of opinions on the matter whether they are reading the paper or watching TV. 

Polls, Reports, & Projections

With all of this in mind, the debate over which will be passed, if either, continues. The Public Policy Institute of California recently released a poll that showed that 34% of respondents would vote ‘yes’ on Prop 27 while 54% would vote ‘no.’ It concluded that 12% are unsure on Prop 27.

Per their report on the poll’s results: “a strong majority of Republicans would vote ‘no,’ compared to half of Democrats and independents. Regionally, majorities in the Inland Empire, Orange/San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area would vote ‘no,’ while likely voters in the Central Valley and Los Angeles are divided. At least half across most demographic groups would vote ‘no.’ Likely voters aged 18 to 44 (52%) and renters (51%) are the only two demographic groups with a slim majority voting ‘yes.’”

In August, research firm Eilers & Krejcik released a special report on their findings as it relates to sports betting legalization in California. According to the report, “The political power and deep pockets of interests with dogs in the hunt (e.g. tribal casinos, OSB operators, sports leagues) — together with competing sports betting measures whose back-to-back presentation on the ballot is likely to confuse voters — have us leaning negative on California’s sports betting legalization prospects this fall.”

Mia Fowler is a graduate of Chapman University where she studied business marketing and journalism and played on the women’s soccer team. Following her 16-year journey with soccer, she started writing for She specifically enjoys analysis of the NFL.

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