California Poll Points To Long Odds On Mobile Sports Betting

September 16, 2022
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A new poll is showing long odds for California to legalize online sports betting this November, despite proponents led by FanDuel and DraftKings raising their stakes and now committing nearly $170m to their referendum campaign.

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A new poll is showing long odds for California to legalize online sports betting this November, despite proponents led by FanDuel and DraftKings raising their stakes and now committing nearly $170m to their referendum campaign.

According to a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey of the state’s election races released on Thursday (September 15), some 54 percent of likely voters said they would vote no on Proposition 27 to authorize and regulate online sports wagering. Just 34 percent of likely voters would vote yes, with 12 percent still unsure.

A majority of voters in the Greater San Francisco and San Diego areas would vote no, but those in Los Angeles are more divided, while likely voters aged 18 to 44 are one of only two demographic groups showing a slim majority intending to support online betting.

A “strong majority” of Republicans oppose the ballot initiative, as do half of Democrat or independent voters, according to the PPIC survey of 1,060 likely voters in California’s general elections of November 8, conducted in early September.

Although there are still some 53 days until the election, the findings of the PPIC survey were immediately seized upon by vocal opponents to Prop 27.

“This survey confirms what we’ve been seeing for months in our own polling,” said the Yes on 26/No on 27 coalition that includes a number of California’s politically powerful Indian gaming tribes.

“Despite raising more than $160m for a deceptive advertising campaign, California voters are clearly not buying what the out-of-state online gambling corporations behind Prop 27 are selling. Voters strongly oppose Prop 27 and its massive expansion of online sports gambling, and they do not believe Prop 27 is a ‘solution’ to anything.”

If approved by voters, Prop 27 would authorize online sports-betting operators active in at least ten states to apply for licenses in California subject to executing a market-access partnership with a California tribe and payment of a $100m upfront fee. California tribes could themselves offer online sportsbooks using their own brands for a lower licensing fee of $10m.

The Yes on 26/No on 27 group is backing an alternative ballot measure, Proposition 26, which would limit legal sports wagering to in-person sportsbook operations at tribal casinos and California racetracks.

Prop 26 would also authorize craps and roulette at tribal casinos and grant California residents authority to take civil actions against illegal gaming, such as unlawful games offered at cardrooms.

Voter intentions on Prop 26 were not subject to the PPIC survey, although VIXIO GamblingCompliance has previously reported that recent internal campaign polling on that measure has indicated voters are roughly evenly split between those opposed, those in favor and those still undecided.

A spokesperson for the Yes on 26/No on 27 campaign said she was not able to disclose any internal polling data.

Thursday’s PPIC survey suggests Prop 27 on online sports wagering remains underwater despite a group of seven prominent sports-betting operators continuing to contribute millions of dollars to the high-profile campaign effort.

As of September 13, the Yes on 27 campaign committee had raised a total of $169.2m in support of the ballot measure, according to California’s Fair Political Practices Commission.

FanDuel and DraftKings have now committed $35m and $34.2m, respectively, with Penn Entertainment, Fanatics Betting and Gaming, and BetMGM each contributing $25m. Wynn Sports Interactive and Bally’s Interactive have contributed $12.5m each so far.

On the other side of the campaign, Yes on 26/No on 27 has raised more than $120.7m from prominent California Native American tribes led by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria ($31.9m), Pechanga Band of Indians ($27.4m) and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($22.2m).

A separate coalition of Indian tribes has also committed $91.2m to defeat the online sports betting ballot measure, with more than $78.1m being contributed by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

In addition, two separate groups representing California’s commercial cardroom sector have raised more than $45m to defeat the tribal-backed Prop 26.

That all adds up to almost $427m in total campaign contributions either for or against one or other of California’s two pending sports-betting ballot measures that will go before voters in early November.

Assuming all the contributions are ultimately spent, that will easily see California sports betting become the most expensive state ballot campaign in U.S. history, surpassing the $224.3m spent by Uber, Lyft and others on a 2020 California referendum to enable their drivers to remain independent contractors rather than employees pursuant to state law.

Asked to comment on the PPIC survey, a spokesperson for the Yes on Prop 27 campaign said voters should look beyond opposition attacks on the measure that would commit 85 percent of licensing fees and tax revenues to homelessness and mental health initiatives.

“Prop 27 has taken over $100m in misleading and false attacks — $40m before we even qualified for the ballot. It’s telling these same opponents funding these ads haven’t spent a dime supporting their own sports-betting proposal, Prop 26,” said Nathan Click of the Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support campaign.

Click said no Californian would deny that the state needs to find permanent funding solutions to address homelessness.

“Only Prop 27 will dedicate hundreds of millions of permanent funding that can be used for solutions like tiny homes, permanent supportive housing, and mental health treatment to help get people off the street. 25 states have authorized safe and responsible online sports betting and cracked down on the illicit and unsafe offshore sports-betting market. California should be next.”

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