Prop 26 and Prop 27

California sports betting: Tribes, operators believe neither ballot measure will pass in November

Jason Robins, DraftKings Founder and CEO.
Reading time 2:01 min

Proponents and opponents of the two sports betting initiatives in California believe neither will pass, with less than a month to go before November’s general election. Supporters of Proposition 26 and 27, which both were behind in polls last week, discussed the outlook of the two ballot measures within the framework of the four-day Global Gaming Expo Las Vegas at the Venetian.

Representatives of California tribes tackled the issue on a Tuesday panel. “It doesn’t look great for either proposition,” said James Siva, chairperson of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, as reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal. Siva said proponents of Proposition 27 – an online sports betting initiative backed by industry heavyweights such as FanDuel and DraftKings – have spent more than $450 million in support of their effort, an amount higher than the one estimated in previous reports.

Those companies also believe that both proposals may fail. In a keynote session featuring FanDuel CEO Amy Howe and DraftKings Founder and CEO Jason Robins that same day, both acknowledged that confusion over the initiatives and the tribes’ opposition to their online betting plan could likely result in defeat – a scenario many have been suggesting for a time now.

When both initiatives qualified for the ballot, many analysts had predicted that both could fail to pass, despite the millions being spent in the battle for legalization. Campaign spending has already broken records, with more than $400 million and counting poured in by both sides. But when two similar proposals show up on the ballot, history suggests that voters are inclined to be confused and vote “no” on both measures.

FanDuel's Amy Howe

Proposition 26, the tribes-backed measure, would allow sports betting, and new casino gaming, only on a retail basis at California’s tribal casinos. Meanwhile, the commercial gaming-backed Proposition 27 seeks to allow sports wagering on a mobile basis.

Tribal opposition to Prop 27 sealed its defeat, said panelist Jacob Mejia, director of public affairs for the Pechanga Development Corp., affiliated with the Pechanga Band of Indians in Temecula, California. Panelist Sara Dutschke, chairperson of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians, said Californians generally have been supportive of the tribes and their casinos so she isn’t surprised that polls indicate Prop 27 may lose, according to Review-Journal.

However, Prop 26 may also go down, given the confusion sparked by the dueling initiatives. DraftKings’ Robins said online sports betting in California probably won’t become legal this year. “More than likely this will pass in 2024,” he noted, according to Bloomberg, a take that Howe also agreed on. At the same time, Robins said it’s hard to imagine California without sports betting in the future.

Robins admitted it’s been hard to drum up support for Proposition 27 ahead of next month’s vote because opponents of the ballot measure are spending more than $100 million on advertising. Backers of the initiative said this week that TV ads weren’t working and they would shift spending toward direct communications.

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