Oct 4, 2022 - Sports

California sports betting vote shatters state spending record

Sports betting laws, by state
Data: American Gaming Association; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

Countless Americans legally wagered on Monday night's all-California NFL matchup (49ers 24, Rams 9), but Californians weren't among them.

State of play: California, America's most-populated state and home to 16 Big Four sports franchises, remains one of 19 states without a legal sports betting market.

Yes, but: That could soon change, thanks to two propositions on November's ballot.

  • Proposition 26: This would legalize in-person betting at all tribal casinos and four private horse racing tracks. Revenue would go towards problem gambling prevention and mental health (15%), gambling enforcement (15%) and the state's general fund (70%).
  • Proposition 27: This would legalize online sports betting across the state, with revenue going towards fighting homelessness (85%) and to tribes that don't participate in gaming (15%).

The backdrop: Prop 27 in particular has been the focus of most parties' attention — and money — pitting operators like FanDuel and DraftKings against Native American tribes, who would no longer enjoy exclusive gaming rights in the state if it passes.

  • $310 million has been spent on ad campaigns for ($160 million) and against ($150 million) Prop 27, per Politico, shattering the state's record for a single proposition ($224 million on Prop 22).
  • Both major parties in California have come out in opposition to Prop 27, with the Democrats and Republicans standing with the Native American tribes.

Where it stands: Just 34% of voters supported Prop 27 in a recent survey, and "it seems like both [26 and 27] are going to meet the same fate," one insider told Legal Sports Report.

The big picture: California is one of only two states with three NFL teams. The other is Florida, which has also been embroiled in a yearslong sports betting battle involving Native American tribes.

  • Combined, the two states represent nearly 20% of the U.S. population, so betting operators have become intimately involved in state politics in hopes of gaining entry.
  • In California, FanDuel and DraftKings are touting their industry as a way to fight homelessness. In Florida, they're framing it as a way to finance public education.
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