Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 and … ? The 4 Most Costly Ballot Battles in CA History

As legalized sports betting continues to sweep the nation, California’s dueling sports betting ballot measures continue to grab headlines. Props 26 and Prop 27 have become the talk of the town leading up to November’s election.

And now they are breaking records.

Groups supporting and opposing California Prop 26 and Prop 27, which would enact in-person and online sports betting respectively, have raised over $256.4 million, becoming the most expensive ballot measures in California history. That’s according to data gathered by Cal-Access.

That’s over $30 million more than the next closest initiative. And the contributions are still coming in.

To give some perspective, let’s look at the ballot measure that these CA sports betting initiatives have passed up.

READ MORE: California Prop 27 Ad Spending Ranks 4th-Most Among All Midterm Elections

2020 — Prop 22: App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative

California Prop 22, the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative, was approved on the November 2020 ballot. Voters elected to define rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors and adopt labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies. The measure passed with over 58% of the vote.

The initiative was backed by rideshare companies Uber and Lyft and food delivery companies DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates. Together, the companies helped put more than $200 million into an aggressive campaign to sway Californians to vote “yes.” This is very similar to Prop 27 in 2022, with national companies (think Uber/DraftKings, Lyft/FanDuel, etc.) pouring money into a California election.

Meanwhile, labor unions led the campaign against Prop 22. However, opponents of the measure were only able to raise about $18 million.

  • Measure: Prop 22 (2020)
  • Total Raised: $224.25 million
  • Support: $205.36 million
  • Opposition: $18.88 million

CA SPORTS BETTING: Prop 27 Could Launch CA Online Sports Betting By September 2023

2012 — Prop 30 and Prop 32: Labor Unions vs. Big Business

The top spot on the California initiative spending tree had belonged to a high-stakes battle between labor unions and business groups that spanned two ballot measures in the 2012 midterm elections.

Prop 30 aimed to raise income and sales taxes to help fund education. The title was “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education.” This measure got significant backing from the California Teachers Association (which has in 2022 announced its opposition to Prop 27).

However, opponents argued that new tax money would only line the pockets of school bureaucrats and unionized teachers. They also believed thousands of overtaxed job creators would leave California and tank the state’s economy.

At the same time, the teachers union also spent heavily to defeat Prop 32, which would have ended campaign fundraising by labor unions. The two propositions became a part of a battle between labor unions and big businesses. In the end, the unions won out with Prop 30 passing and Prop 32 being voted down.

  • Measures: Prop 30 and Prop 32 (2012)
  • Total Raised: $185.9 million
  • Support: $127 million
  • Opposition: $59 million

2008 — Props 94, 95, 96, 97: Push for Gambling Expansion

What we are seeing in 2022 is not the first time gambling has been the talk of a California November election. In 2008, a lot of money was spent on the expansion of gambling in California.

Props 94, 95, 96, and 97 sought to expand the gambling scope of California’s tribal casinos. Opponents argued that “yes” votes on the measure would give four of California’s 108 tribes unfair control over 1/3 of the state’s Indian gaming pie. They worried the dominant casinos could economically devastate smaller tribes.

With all four measures passing, citizens voted to allow Indian tribes to expand gambling in the state. The vote allowed for the addition of new slot machines in California. The propositions also made the tribes pay additional deposits into the state General Fund.

  • Measures: Props 94, 95, 96, 97 (2012)
  • Total Raised: $154.5 million
  • Support: $115 million
  • Opposition: $39 million
About the Author

C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at CA Casinos, currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.