Things don’t look too good for Prop 27, the California online sports betting measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.
A yes vote on Prop 27 would help create a path forward for sports fans and bettors to legally gamble from computers or mobile devices anywhere in the state. It would create more than $3 billion in annual sports betting handle and state revenue taxes in the mid-hundred millions.
But, according to a recent poll of 1,060 likely California voters, it isn’t very popular — 54% said they plan to vote no, which would make it still illegal to bet on sports in California.
In response, the Prop 27 campaign pulled most of its TV ads and will focus these final six weeks on direct communication, such as online ads and mailers. That same poll had 34% of respondents say they planned to vote yes on Prop 27, and 12% were undecided.
Between now and Nov. 8, the Prop 27 campaign needs to win over that undecided 12% and convince 5.1% of the no crowd to switch over to yes. That would get Prop 27 up to the roughly 50.1% it needs to pass on election day.
So … just how many votes does Prop 27 need to pass and launch legal online sports betting in California?
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Prop 27 Needs 21.5% of Registered CA Voters to Vote Yes
Midterm elections generally have smaller turnouts that presidential elections, so the exact number of yes votes Prop 27 needs might be less than you think.
Of course, there can be some high-number outliers. In 2018, the midterm election of the Donald Trump presidency, for instance, California had 12,712,542 votes cast. That’s comparable to general election turnout.
To get what we’d consider an accurate number for Prop 27, we first found the average voter turnout from the past five California midterm elections (2018, 2014, 2010, 2006, and 2002) — 9,432,957.
Then, we found 50.1% of that: 4,725,911.
And there you have it.
Our best guess for how many votes Prop 27 needs to pass in California this November is 4,725,911.
As of May 23, 2022, California had 21,941,212 registered voters. So 21.5% of registered voters need to vote yes on Prop 27 in order for it to pass.
For some more context, let’s take a closer look at specific counties in the past three California midterm elections.
2018 — Los Angeles County
By population, Los Angeles is the largest county in California. So it’s easy to understand why political action groups invest massive amounts of resources into campaigning there. As Los Angeles goes, so does the rest of the state.
According to the California Secretary of State website, in the 2018 midterm election, there were 5,280,658 registered voters in Los Angeles County. Of those almost 5.3 million registered voters, a little more than 3 million cast a ballot.
That’s good for about a 57.25% voter turnout.
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And while we’re talking percentages, let’s contemplate this. If Prop 27 had been on the ballot during the 2018 midterms, how many voters in LA County would have needed to check yes for it to pass in that county?
To get to the magic number of 50.1%, approximately 1.51 million Angelenos would have needed to say yes to the measure.
Because constituents in all counties have their voices and votes counted, this is merely a hypothetical snapshot of what we could see come November. Remember, as Los Angeles goes, so does the rest of the state.
And if campaign ads advocating for yes on Prop 27 have done their job, 50.1% in Los Angeles on this particular measure might make it come to fruition and bring bettors California sportsbook welcome bonuses as early as September 2023.
2014 — San Francisco County
Let’s go from SoCal to the Bay.
In our hypothetical scenario, what would the voter turnout in San Francisco need to be for Prop 27 to become law of the land? Again, we used the data provided on the California Secretary of State website to examine voter turnout data in the state’s 13th-most populous county. But this time, we went back a little further to 2014.
In 2014, of the 433,844 registered voters in the county, 231,214 voted. So turnout in SF County eight years ago was about 53.29%.
If Prop 27 had been on the ballot back then, approximately 116,000 San Franciscoans would’ve needed to mark yes on Prop 27 for it to pass in that region.
It’s worth noting that the Bay Area is fertile with several sports franchises that, more often than not, are worth a wager. From the reigning champion Golden State Warriors to the one-year-away San Francisco Niners, Bay Area sports bettors might consider that cashing in on the home teams could be easier than ever if they vote yes on Prop 27.
2010 — Orange County
The last county we want to quickly dive into is Orange County.
When you hear Orange County, California, picturesque beaches and destinations like DisneyLand might come to mind. And while it ranks in the bottom fourth of California counties by land mass, when it comes to population, it’s the third-most populous.
The OC neighbors Los Angeles, but Orange County’s ethnic and political makeup differ greatly from close-by LA. With that in mind, we wanted to look at voter turnout way back when in 2010.
Of the 1,621,934 million registered voters in the 2010 midterm election, 898,205 voters turned out. That’s equal to 55.38%.
So if that exact 898, 205 voters turned out in November of this year, how many would need to vote yes on Prop 27 for it to pass in Mickey Mouse’s backyard? The answer is a little more than 450,000 voters.
Perhaps bettors who back the Los Angeles Angels and the Anaheim Ducks will go to the polls in droves and help move the needle toward online betting becoming legal in the state.
When Do You Vote on Prop 27?
Nov. 8, in the California midterm election.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, registered California voters who skip out on elections like midterms attribute their apathy to lack of interest in the candidates or in the election in general. A September PPIC poll also found that 84% of Californians see low voter participation as a problem.
But this year, it has been virtually impossible to miss seeing the very pointed Prop 27 campaign ads.
Will this effort translate to voters going to the polls in record numbers for a midterm election, like they did in 2018?
At the least, it will be interesting to analyze if Californians who do turn out — especially in the densely populated counties discussed above — use their vote to usher in a new era in gambling in the Golden State.