Legalized sports betting in California could be in jeopardy. That’s according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, an independent research and consulting firm that revealed that belief in a report published for its clients this week.
If either Prop 26 or Prop 27 passes in this November’s election, California could launch sports betting in 2023. If neither passes, Californians would have to wait until at least 2024 before the chance to vote again for legalized sports betting. And then the launch likely wouldn’t happen until at least 2025.
Gaming Experts: Legal Sports Betting in California Facing Tough Odds
A recent New York Post article details a report published for clients by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. According to the firm, the odds that California voters will approve either Prop 26 or Prop 27 on the ballot in November are getting longer.
That’s because the two competing measures may divide voters more than they actually drive enough to vote for one.
“The political power and deep pockets of interests with dogs in this hunt … 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,” the report said. “We preliminarily put the odds of one or both measures passing at less than 50%.”
Prop 26 would allow retail sports betting at California tribal casinos and California horse racetracks, but not online betting. Meanwhile, Prop 27 would legalize online sports betting for people in California who are at least 21 years old.
Eilers & Krejcik Gaming says either of the two measures being approved would provide a significant boost to California sports betting operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM — either in a retail setting with Prop 26 or online (which would be more lucrative for them) with Prop 27. Experts estimate gross California sports betting revenue could exceed $3 billion annually, more than double that of New York.
We’ve seen legalized sports betting getting approved across the country, with 21 states allowing online wagering.
If you want a copy of the Eilers & Krejcik Gaming report, it costs $1,000.
EXCLUSIVE SURVEY: 61% of California Sports Bettors Want Both Prop 26 and Prop 27 to Pass
Who Is Backing Prop 26 and Prop 27?
In their report, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming references people with deep pockets supporting the dueling measures. That is a true statement. Groups supporting and opposing California Prop 26 and Prop 27 have raised over $360 million, easily making them the most expensive ballot measures in California history.
Based on campaign filings, the groups facing off to control California’s sports market have raised an average of $16.5 million per week since June 30. That’s more than has been collected for three of the state’s seven ballot measures during the entire campaign. In fact, Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 is one of the most expensive midterm election races in the entire US.
Supporting Prop 27
The sports betting companies are among those backing Prop 27. So far, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PENN Gaming (Barstool Sportsbook), and FBG Enterprises (Fanatics) have each contributed $25 million to support Prop 27. Bally Bet and WynnBET have chipped in $12.5 million each.
Major League Baseball also endorsed Prop 27. MLB and several of its teams are already partnered with various US sportsbooks. The league also likely recognized the benefit of online sports betting in a state where five pro baseball franchises operate.
Three smaller tribes, including the tribe that owns the seventh-largest casino in Northern California, also support the measure that would bring online sports betting to California.
California card rooms are also opposed to Prop 26.
Supporting Prop 26
Meanwhile, various tribes have donated over $170 million to committees supporting Prop 26 and opposing Prop 27. The biggest funders include the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, who have contributed more than $53 million, and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, who have donated more than $30 million.
According to the No on 27 campaign, 58 tribes, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, and the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations publicly support Prop 26. Republican and Democratic leaders in Sacramento have recently come out in opposition to Prop 27, despite the hundreds of millions in projected state revenue.
California Sports Betting Battle Intensifies With Attack Ads
Both the sportsbooks and tribes continue to spend big bucks on new statewide TV ads attacking each other’s measures. Just in the past week, Prop 26 released an ad listing all the tribes that support it compared to the three that support Prop 27. A few days later, Prop 27 released an ad in which the director of a Sacramento homeless facility stresses how Prop 27 would permanently fund homelessness programs.
There are less than 10 weeks to go before California voters head to the ballot box on Nov. 8 to choose between the competing legal sports betting measures. Expect to see more TV ads and billboards pop up over the next couple of months, not less.