Sports betting unlikely to come to California, poll suggests

Both in California and in the wider iGaming industry, a lot of words have been written and a lot of advertisements aired since it became clear that two sports betting measures would be on the ballot in November’s votes. Until this week, all we had to go on for how likely these bills were to pass was the endorsements and opposition aired in the media. However, according to a poll released this week, it looks like at least one of the measures is heading for failure.

The Public Policy Institute of California asked voters how they were minded to vote on Proposition 27, which would give sportsbook operators the chance to offer online betting in the state. 54% of respondents among likely voters said that they would be voting “No” on the measure, with just 34% expressing an intention to back the proposition.

With eight weeks to go until voting, a margin of 20% is going to be very difficult to overturn, not least considering that the measure seems unpopular among every polled demographic. Democrat voters were mostly against, with just 34% in support, while among Republicans that number plummeted to 21%. Overcoming poor polling tends to rely on a massive campaigning effort and solid public endorsements, and with those numbers, it’s hard to see where any of that will come from.

The news was immediately seized upon by backers of Proposition 26, which would permit sports betting, but only in retail form at casinos and selected racetracks in the Golden State. They claimed it as a demonstration that voters would reject the effort to allow control of sports betting to be allowed to out-of-state betting companies. However, as the poll didn’t ask anyone about Prop 26, there is no information right now on whether that would be any more popular among voters.

Some sources have pointed out that the last time two similar measures on sports betting came to a public vote, both were comfortably defeated, so the omens may not be great for either campaign. If both proposals were to be rejected at the ballot box, it would be a considerable setback for sports betting in California. On the back of a No vote, it seems improbable that there would be much support for legislation to be imposed by lawmakers in the time between now and the next time the public go to the polls, which would be in November 2024 at the time of the Presidential Election.