A new Los Angeles Times/UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll further crushed the spirit of anyone hoping to be able to place a sports bet in California in the near future. According to the poll results released on Tuesday, the tribal-backed retail-only Proposition 26 has the support of 31% of voters while the commercial-backed, digital-only Proposition 27 has the support of 27% of voters.
The poll was released days after the California Secretary of State updated its website to show that campaigns for and against legal wagering brought in $167 million in new contributions between June 30-Sept. 30. The issue has become the most expensive initiative campaign in U.S. history, surpassing the 2020 $200 million campaign by ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft that sought to keep workers classified as contractors. So far, the wagering campaigns have collectively been funded with more than $470 million in contributions.
“These results suggest that the sports wagering initiatives are foundering in the face of the opposition advertising campaigns,” IGS Co-Director Eric Schickler said. “The lack of support among key demographic groups makes passage of each an uphill climb, at best.”
The LAT/Berkeley survey included 6,939 likely voters and also examined other measures on the ballot, revealing that 57% of those responding would support Proposition 31, which would ban sales of flavored tobacco in most retail locations, and 49% would support Proposition 30, which would require wealthy residents to pay an additional 1.75% in personal income tax for earnings over $2 million in 2023.
The poll also showed that sitting Gov. Gavin Newsom should easily win reelection, with 53% of respondents saying they will vote for him and 32% saying they will not. The survey, which was conducted online Sept. 22-27, included 8,725 California registered voters, of which 6,939 were considered likely to vote Nov. 8.
He said, she said
Those running the sports betting campaigns took potshots at one another in the Times story, with Nathan Click of the Yes on 27 campaign saying his proposition has “taken over $100 million in false and misleading attacks,” and Kathy Fairbanks, the face of Yes on 26/No on 27, saying “voters appear to be rejecting the out-of-state gambling corporations and their $170-million campaign of deception.”
The poll found that 42% of respondents would vote against Proposition 26 while 27% remain undecided. The numbers are more stark for Proposition 27 — 53% would vote against and 20% remain undecided.
Proposition 26 would allow for in-person wagering at tribal casinos and four horse racetracks. It would also allow the tribal casinos to add some ball and dice games and includes a provision that would make it easier for private citizens to sue the state’s card rooms, which the tribes have long contended are operating illegally.
Proposition 27, backed by Bally’s, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, PENN Entertainment/Barstool Sportsbook, and WynnBET, would allow for digital wagering with platforms tied to tribal casinos. The lion’s share of revenue from the 10% tax rate would be earmarked for homelessness and mental health programs.
Neither proposition showed majority support among any of the respondent groups, with voters aged 18-39 the most likely to support legal wagering, and even out of that group of respondents, fewer than 50% said they would vote yes to either initiative. A telling result of the poll is that 53% of respondents view the state’s tribes favorably, while only 14% view commercial operators favorably.
Show me the money
On Friday, the California Secretary of State’s office updated its website, which breaks down campaign contributions and expenditures for all initiative and candidate races.
The Yes on 27 campaign, supported by a group of seven sports businesses, received contributions of $69.2 million between June 30-Sept. 30 against spending of $134 million, according to the website. During that three-month period, FanDuel contributed $18.3 million, DraftKings contributed $16.5 million, and Fanatics and PENN Entertainment added $12.5 million each. BetMGM contributed $8.3 million. In addition, more than a dozen contributions from individual citizens — most for $100 — were made during this time period.
Of the money spent during that period, about $100 million was to Sadler Strategic Media for television ad buys.
There are multiple groups pushing forward No on 27 campaigns, and they collectively brought in nearly $100 million in contributions during the third quarter.
The No on 27 campaign backed by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which submitted its own digital wagering proposal to the state but decided to hold off on qualifying it for the ballot, took in just over $50 million in contributions from June 30-Sept. 30, according to the SOS website. No dates are listed for when individual expenditures were made by this group, though according to the SOS website, it spent $55.5 million, including a $500,000 donation to the California Republican Party.
The SOS website shows that more than $47 million in contributions were made to the Yes on 26/No on 27 campaign between June 30-Sept. 30. The campaign is supported by more than 50 of California’s Indian tribes and on Tuesday dropped a new ad that lashes out at the state’s card rooms.
The biggest contribution was $25 million from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, followed by $10 million from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. The Barona Band of Mission Indians and Yoche Dehe Winton Nation each contributed $5 million.
During that same time period, the campaign spent approximately $70 million on television advertising, including $35 million in September. Other expenditures included direct mailing, print media, social media, and polling.
California’s card rooms, which are supporting a No on 26 campaign, contributed less than $1 million to their campaign, while spending $36 million. The group spent about $20 million on television advertising and about $8.5 million on direct mailing and social media. The group also contributed $2.5 million to the state’s Republican Party and $200,000 to the Democratic Party.