California voters rejected two competing ballot initiatives that would have legalized sports betting. According to the Washington Examiner, the state’s two most expensive ballot initiatives, propositions 26 and 27, pitted major gaming businesses and Native American tribes against one another. Both laws would have legalized sports betting in some capacity, but their scopes and fine print were quite different.
Proposition 26 would have allowed in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racetracks. Proposition 27 would have allowed citizens of California to place bets through authorized sportsbooks online from anywhere in the state.
The ballot initiatives also entailed a complex web of campaigns. KTLA reported that one campaign advocated for Proposition 26 while opposing Proposition 27. Another was committed entirely to defeating Proposition 27. A third was wholly in opposition to Proposition 26. And a fourth one, supported by large sportsbooks, ran a solitary campaign supporting Proposition 27. Proposition 26 was backed by most Native American tribes in California because it prioritized casinos on tribal land. However, Proposition 27 essentially eliminated the incentive for gamblers to travel to casinos and place their bets in person.
If Proposition 27 had been approved, California would have become the latest state to legalize online sports betting. Additionally, big sportsbooks would have had to collaborate with a California tribe and spend $100 million to obtain a license in the state. Both initiatives polled poorly in the run-up to the election and were anticipated to be rejected at the ballot box.