Tuesday’s statewide election delivered the expected results for California Prop 27 and the other sports betting ballot measure, Prop 26. Thus, subsequent days have presented an opportunity for opponents of both measures to celebrate and supporters to look at what went wrong.
Despite the results, the movement to legalize California sports betting is far from over. Gambling companies and officials have made that clear. At the same time, it seems the opposing forces are equally determined to push back against future attempts.
What gambling execs and activists said about California Prop 27 defeat
Prop 27 will receive less than 20% support from voters in California in the final tally. The forces who wanted to see that result seem justified in taking a victory lap. For example, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Chairman Mark Macarro stated:
“It’s clear voters don’t want a massive expansion of online sports betting, and they trust Indian tribes when it comes to responsible gaming. As tribes, we will analyze these results and collectively have discussions about what the future of sports wagering might look like in California.”
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians operate Pechanga Resort Casino near Temecula, California. The array of online gambling companies and other entities that pushed voters to support Prop 27 through the Yes on 27 campaign released a unified statement.
“Our coalition knew that passing Prop 27 would be an uphill climb, and we remain committed to California. This campaign has underscored our resolve to see California follow more than half the country in legalizing safe and responsible online sports betting.
Dozens of states and countless local governments are benefitting from the significant tax revenue that online sports betting provides, and as California faces tax revenue declines and uncertain economic headwinds, online sports betting can provide substantial solutions to fill future budget gaps.
Our campaign also demonstrated how the safe and legal online sports betting market in California can provide significant revenue and benefits to California Tribes – both gaming and non-gaming alike. Californians are currently placing billions in bets each year on illicit offshore sports betting websites – unsafe and unregulated enterprises that offer no protections for minors or consumers and generate no support for state priorities.
Californians deserve the benefits of a safe, responsible, regulated, and taxed online sports betting market, and we are resolved to bringing it to fruition here.”
Statements on the rejection of Prop 26 from key entities, figures
The No on Prop 26 campaign wasted no time in releasing a statement about its success on Tuesday night. Californians defeated the measure by a 70% margin.
“California voters were not fooled by Proposition 26 and soundly rejected it. Prop 26 was not just a sports betting measure but a massive expansion of gambling by five wealthy tribes that included a poison pill aimed at taking market share away from highly regulated cardrooms that provide millions of dollars in tax revenue to communities and tens of thousands of jobs.
Voters made it clear; Prop 26 is bad for communities, jobs, and California.”
Juan Garza, who represented a coalition of California cities that rely on card room revenues to support their budgets, had a similar comment.
“As the representative of five cities that rely on cardrooms to fund vital city services, we are thrilled California voters agreed with us and rejected Prop 26. Prop 26 had a hidden poison pill that allows for unlimited lawsuits against cardrooms – a highly regulated industry that provides critical tax revenue for cities and jobs across California.
We are thankful to voters for rejecting Prop 26 that would have significantly harmed so many California communities.”
Disappointed operators share their thoughts too
On the flip side, operators of horse tracks in California expressed their disappointment at Prop 26’s defeat. Gary Fenton, the chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, shared some comments.
“We are disappointed but not surprised that Prop 26 did not pass and will do our part to find a positive outcome that can channel sports gaming demand responsibly to return maximum benefit to the state as well as provide a top-quality customer experience at our well-established and regulated racetracks in California in the next election cycle in 2024.
The California racing industry remains highly motivated to pursue this initiative, working collaboratively with key partners, to join the list of 35 states that currently offer legal sports wagering.”
Prop 26 would have allowed race tracks in California to accept bets on sporting events in person. While advocates for these measures seem determined to keep trying, it looks like their opposition isn’t ready to rest on their laurels either.