California Voters Say No to Sports Betting After Most Expensive Battle in U.S. History

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated November 10, 2022
4 min read
  • On Election Day, CA Voters Voted No on Both Sports Betting Props: 26 and 27

  • CA Sports Betting Campaign Most Expensive Ballot Measure Fight in U.S. history

  • California State Neighbors AZ, NV, OR, All with Legal Sports Betting Markets

California Voters No Sports Betting

On Election Day, CA Voters Voted No on Both Sports Betting Props: 26 and 27

TheCaliforniasports betting gold rush that could have been... won’t be, at least for now, all thanks to state voters casting their definitive no’s on election day, rejecting both related ballot initiatives (Props 26 & 27) that would have put the country’s largest potential market in play.

We havefollowed this Golden State story ever since lawmakers there introduced the two sports betting ballot measures, the one called Prop 26 backed by most of the state’s tribal population since it would have legalized just a retail market only, essentially granting the tribes a monopoly.

The other sports betting initiative was called Prop 27 and unlike its competitor would only legalize the mobile market, so it became the popular choice among outside operators who saw this as the only way for them to take part in California’s legal sports betting market.

And thus the battle for gambling hearts and minds began in CA, with both sides pleading their case for months to potential voters who would eventually decide on which option they preferred to launch in that state, and on Tuesday they answered with a resounding ‘none of the above.’

Less than 30% of the voters supported Prop 26 and only 16% of them were in favor of Prop 27, this was an expensive way to discover that the Golden State sports betting debate was on the wrong track.

CA Sports Betting Campaign Most Expensive Ballot Measure Fight in U.S. history

We reported back in October that California Has Spent Record $364M on Sports Betting Ballot Measure Advertising, and since that article was published even more money has been invested in that venture, the total now at $450 million, the most ever spent on a U.S. ballot measure fight.

Of course, that money is a pittance when compared with the multi-billion dollar handle that the U.S. legal sports betting market has generated since its inception in May 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned PASPA and handed that right over to the individual states.

Since then over30 states have done just that by creating their own new tax revenue streams that continue to grow as that market matures and evolves, but now California will have to wait to join in the fun since its voters made it clear that they did not like the way it has been presented.

That means that CA sports bettors must continue to send their actions elsewhere.

With a population of over 39 million residents, California would become the largest sports betting market in the U.S. once that operation launches, but until then the gamblers there will have to continue to spend their betting kitties using illegal bookies or worse, go out of state.

Those CA residents who live near the border can easily jump over to one of the nearby states that have already legalized this activity including Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon, all ready and able to take CA’s sports bets so long as bettors are willing to travel.

For those who aren’t, they will continue to place their bets using the unregulated offshore sportsbooks that gamblers have been using for decades, a risky option that ends up costing California millions in lost potential tax revenue they could be charging on all that action.

California’s legislative body is scheduled to convene on December 5 of this year, so chances are some new sports betting discussions will take place, the goal being to figure out how to please the state’s native tribes, outside operators, and resident gamblers all at once.

Keep checking back for news and updates on this ongoing story.

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
Nationality: American
Education: N/A
Favourite Sportsbook: bet365 Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: Caesars Palace Casino
23 years
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