Sports Betting Likely To Fail On California Ballot, Tribal Leaders Say

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Sports Betting Likely To Fail On California Ballot, Tribal Leaders Say
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The two ballot questions facing California voters on Nov. 8 to legalize sports betting appear headed for defeat, according to tribal leaders at a gaming conference in Las Vegas.

“The reality is both of them are not going to pass,” said Jacob Mejia, director of public affairs for Pechanga Development Corp.

Mejia participated in a panel discussion Tuesday at the Global Gaming Expo. The event is being held this week at the Venetian hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. James Silva, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, also said both measures face an uphill battle on Election Day.

“It doesn’t look great,” he said.

Mobile Apps vs. In-Person Wagering

One ballot question, Proposition 26, would legalize in-person sports betting at 66 tribal casino and four horse tracks, but not on mobile apps. Prop 26 is being supported by California’s major tribes.

Proposition 27 would legalize mobile apps across the state. It is being backed by national online bookmakers such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM Sportsbook.

Both sides have spent millions in advertising to win support from voters. However, Mejia noted that if voters are confused about a ballot issue, as he said is happening in California with the sports betting initiatives, they tend to vote “no.” 

Polls Shows Sports Betting Unpopular In California 

Recent polling indicates both California sports betting ballot measures will fail in the November election.

In a poll by the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, 42% of those surveyed said they would vote “no” on Prop 26. The poll showed 31% would vote “yes,” with 27% undecided.

The poll also showed that 53% of those surveyed would vote “no” on Prop 27 to legalize mobile apps, while 27% said they would vote “yes.” Twenty percent were undecided.

The poll of 8,725 registered California voters was administered online in English and Spanish from September 22-27. Of those who took the survey, 6,939 are likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.5 percentage points, according to the university.

FanDuel CEO Predicts 2024 Sports Betting Momentum

At the panel discussion on Tuesday, tribal leaders said national online bookmakers thought they could come into California and overlook the tribes, and even attack them, in pushing for mobile wagering.

“Voters saw though the ruse,” Mejia said.

At the conclusion of the panel discussion, Mejia told the next step regarding any future effort to legalize sports betting in California will be to listen to what voters want. That might take awhile, he said.

“It’s going to take time for the stench of this mess to dissipate,” he said.

During an earlier discussion at the Global Gaming Expo, Jason Robins, CEO of Boston-based DraftKings, said it has been difficult to overcome what he characterized as “false and misleading” advertising against the online bookmakers during the California effort. Robins predicated there will be momentum to approve mobile sports betting in 2024 in California.

At the tribal panel discussion, Victor Rocha, editor of, said the national bookmakers “don’t get it” if they think they can come back to California in 2024 and win approval for mobile wagering. Rocha said the tribes will “always fight like it’s our last fight.” 

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Larry Henry

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