A bitter blow was dealt to sports betting fans in California when an emphatic ‘No’ was the result of two separate ballots relating to the legalization of sports betting in the state.
With just shy of 40 million residents, California State is by far the most populous state in the US. That would translate to it becoming the most lucrative sports betting market in the country if sports betting was legalized.
However, despite a massive input of cash, to the tune of $460 million, in support of legalization, two separate State Propositions were put to public ballot and neither even came close to being passed.
There were two different State propositions under consideration for voters, Proposition 26 and Proposition 27. Proposition 26 would have legalized in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racing tracks, but that was downvoted by 70.5% of voters.
In addition, a massive 83.3% of voters also rejected Proposition 27, which would have allowed sports gambling companies to operate online sports betting in the state, in partnership with tribal casino operators.
A coalition of 30 Native American tribes added Proposition 26 to the ballot as a way of ensuring that any legal sports betting in the state would remain under the auspices of existing tribal land-based casinos.
By taking this stance, the tribes received a good deal of criticism. Largely based on the premise that such action would put undue pressure on existing legal card rooms in the state, which compete directly with tribal casinos.
Unsurprisingly, Proposition 27 was placed on the ballot (and heavily backed) by sports betting giants FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings, their sportsbooks being available online across many states already. If Proposition 27 were passed, it would have left the gate wide open for them to partner up with existing tribal casinos to offer their own sports betting services across the state.
The campaign launched by the sportsbooks made claims that taxable profits would be used for fighting the homeless crisis in California, assuming Proposition 27 was approved. However, many considered that the sportsbooks were only out to feather their own nests and that their style of promotion was misleading.
The fact that campaigns for and against the two Propositions raised more than $570 million, the highest spend for any US ballot measure issue in history, speaks volumes. This huge investment reflects the potential for a multibillion-dollar sports betting industry, if it were to be legalized in California.
For the moment, the losers have quietly slipped away to lick their wounds and gambling in California will remain limited to horse tracks, card rooms, Native American casinos and the state lottery.
However, rumors abound of new Propositions already underway to renew the battle for legal sports betting in the Golden State. Don’t hold your breath though, as the next ballots won’t be up for consideration until at least 2024.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
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