Prop 26 and Prop 27 have sparked an intense ad campaign between private companies and gaming tribes in California.
While both campaigns are fighting to pass alone, 61% of surveyed Californians in an exclusive California Casinos survey want both measures to pass. Just 15% wanted only Prop 26, and another 15% wanted only Prop 27 to pass. A final 9% wanted neither California sports betting initiative to pass.
This may seem surprising for Californians inundated with either/or-style sports betting initiative ads. Prop 26 would allow retail sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racetracks, but not online betting. Prop 27 would allow online sports betting, but not retail sports betting. The survey results show California sports bettors want both online and retail sports betting options.
Prop 26 and Prop 27 Campaign Noise
Before Prop 26 and Prop 27 made it onto the same ballot, there was a chance that Californians would only have one sports betting initiative to vote on — the tribal sports betting measure. But once Prop 27’s signatures were verified, however, California courts faced a potentially looming tricky question: What happens if both Prop 26 and Prop 27 pass?
The California Constitution stipulates that, if there are two ballot measures that conflict, the measure receiving the higher percentage of votes will go into effect. That’s why Prop 27 writers put language in the initiative specifically stating it does not conflict with Prop 26 — in case the tribal initiative gets a higher percentage.
So, in all likelihood, both initiatives would go into effect. Online sports betting would be legal, and retail sports betting would be legal at tribal casinos and horse racetracks. Then, the courts would then have to resolve conflicting parts of the new laws.
That means California sports bettors could get their wish for both sports betting options in 2023. They’d just have to be patient while the regulations governing online and retail sports betting were written.
Californians won’t see these concessions in Prop 26 and Prop 27 campaign ads, though. The ad campaigns are attempts for private sportsbook companies and gaming tribes to maximize market share if Californians vote to legalize sports betting. California is too large a market to miss out on. The sportsbook companies and gaming tribes are going for broke before considering compromise.
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Why Do People Want Retail Sports Betting in California?
The case for online sports betting is easy to understand. It’s convenient to place bets from home. It’s easier to place sports wagers in arenas from a smartphone than it is to crowd a sports betting kiosk or clerk, too. (Although, this convenience can depend on cell coverage.)
However, retail sportsbooks provide social venues for bettors to gather on game day. It’s one thing to make a bet on a phone. But sports betting at a bar with flatscreens plastering the walls is a different experience. Betting with other energetic sports bettors and enjoying a beer with them is a good afternoon or evening out.
Putting that kind of space in a casino gives patrons a unique area from the slot machines and game tables. It’s an extra source of revenue for casinos and a new offering for regular casino patrons.
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Casino sportsbooks have another advantage over their standalone counterparts. During a bad weekend for sportsbooks, the rest of the casino games can cover the sportsbook’s losses. (It’s rare for professionally run sportsbooks to lose money, but sometimes chance is on the bettor’s side.) Other sources of casino revenue relieve pressure from the oddsmakers until sportsbooks make their money back.
Retail and online sportsbooks have their own quirks — including what could be some pretty eye-popping California sportsbook promos — and Californians are clamoring to experience both.
Sports Betting Ad Campaigns vs. California Voters
California sports betting campaign ads are still trying to convince California voters to pick one sports betting initiative over the other. However, California sports bettors want both initiatives to pass. The campaigns for Prop 26 and Prop 27 will have some tough decisions to make.
If both sports betting initiatives are still expected to pass as the midterms approach, the organizational strategies behind the campaigns will transform. California voters are the first group that the two measures are trying to convince. But the campaign’s goals will morph into a series of legal battles shortly after the California results come in. Then it’d be time to convince the courts.
California voters won’t just decide how sports betting will launch in California. They’ll also determine the legal challenges that the state’s courts will grapple with in 2023.
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