What’s next for sports wagering in California?

What’s next for sports wagering in California?
What’s next for sports wagering in California?

Typically, electoral action advocates in California identify a real or imagined problem and try to convince voters that their proposal will solve it.

However, sentences 26 and 27 differ markedly from this pattern. Instead, they want California voters to invent new ways to spend their money betting on sports.

There is no public outcry about this. If there is a strong supporter of sports betting, then probably the main sponsors of online fantasy sports games are young people.

The reason both options will almost certainly be voted down in the Nov. 8 election is due to the low demand for sports betting, as well as the very confusing amount of announcements for and against the two measures.

Last week, the California Public Policy Institute released a new statewide poll that showed that only 34% of voters would support Proposition 26, while 26% would vote for Proposition 27.

The study confirmed that young people, if any, are supporters of sports betting, but they are also one of the demographic subgroups least likely to vote.

Online gambling companies backing Proposition 27 began winding down their campaigns a few weeks ago, feeling it was unlikely to pass. Fortunately, the casino Indian tribes who voted for Proposition 26 still oppose Proposition 27, but the lack of an effective campaign against Proposition 26 also seems doomed.

So let’s say you spent over $500 million on your losing campaigns and both were rejected, what happens next?

A quick look back at what happened prior to this year’s large-scale campaign might be helpful.

In 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned a law banning sports betting. Since then, 35 states have legalized sports betting in one form or another. Not surprisingly, companies promoting it in other states are targeting California, the nation’s most populous state and thus its largest potential market.

There have been some initiatives in Congress, but the casino owner tribe, which has a near-monopoly on legal gambling in the state, has been adamant that anyone else has access to players’ wallets.

As legislative efforts failed, the tribe launched an initiative that culminated in Proposition 26, mandating sports betting directly at the casino or at four designated racetracks.

Internet gambling companies, led by FanDuel and DraftKings, later sponsored a rival law that would become Proposition 27 allowing gambling through computers and mobile phones.

Some tribes have temporarily initiated third measures to allow online gambling that they control, but these have been abandoned in favor of focusing resources to overcome Proposition 27.

If these two measures are rejected, the situation will return to what it was a few years ago. The legislative path can be revived, but as long as the casino tribes insist on maintaining their monopoly, they see no way to succeed.

But sports betting in California is a potentially multi-billion dollar business, and it’s entirely possible that new measures will be proposed in the 2024 ballot, and that’s only a problem because it’s likely.

Tribes can drop Proposition 26’s idea of ​​face-to-face gambling and seek online gambling monopolies, similar to this year’s short-term measures. Casino tribes are also likely to compromise with rural tribes that do not have casinos and would benefit from Proposition 27.

Given the potential market for California, the tribe’s move could also spawn another corporate effort, meaning it could be the subject of competitive campaigns again.

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