Industry Observers Say California Online Sports Betting “Prop 27” Bill Is A November Long Shot


Recent comments by veteran industry observers suggest that commercial online sports betting in California is unlikely to pass voter scrutiny this year.

Individuals located in California who tuned-in to nationally televised college football games this past weekend were treated to numerous ads urging for the statewide passage of “Proposition 27” this November. 

The bill, backed by the parent companies of DraftKings Sportsbook Colorado, FanDuel Sportsbook CO, BetMGM Mobile Sportsbook App Colorado, and several other legal sportsbook apps authorized to operate within the Centennial State, brings with it a promise to help fund multiple high profile social issues in California that have garnered increased public attention nationwide since the turn of the century. 

According to California “Prop 27” proponents, the proposal would allocate dedicated funding (in the form of statewide tax revenue) for low-income housing, mental health treatment, along with other initiatives to combat homelessness in CA.

However, recent coverage and analysis provided by (COBets partner company) SportsHandle informs readers that there are “overwhelming messages” in the fight over legal CA wagering… to a point in which the status quo may be heavily favored to endure in the Golden State.

And a status quo would mean no legal, authorized, and licensed sports wagering in California (not even at retail properties located on tribal lands, which would become a reality if the countermeasure “Proposition 26” were to pass) for at least another year – not to mention the regulation of (much) more profitable statewide iGaming products and services.

Back And Forth Online Gaming Legalization Rhetoric Is Nothing New In California

California’s in-state battle over whether to legalize and formally license some form of online sports betting, poker, or slot-style activity is nothing new. The push (and corresponding push-back) has been a recurring theme since at least 2012 – the year following U.S. online poker’s “Black Friday” forced contraction.

After all, if California were a country, the jurisdiction would be rated as the fifth largest economy in the world.

What is new in the battle for California sports betting legalization is the candid, forthright manner in which the staunch opposition to legal CA online gambling is being spread, communicated, and acknowledged.

A September 5th article published by SportsHandle managing editor Jill R. Dorson states that the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) has become the latest local organization to focus its criticism squarely at the feet of Prop 27’s (allegedly over-glorified) promises made to California constituents via an onslaught of media buys paid for by the online sports wagering bill’s main out-of-state proponents. 

Even Californian politicians from both sides of the aisle seem to agree on the issue.

Will Eventual CA Solution Require Creative Market Access Distribution?

One of the many interesting things to note about the latest industry observer guidance on California sports betting issues is a comment made by Chris Grove, partner emeritus for gaming research firm Eilers & Krejcik.

According to Grove, the California marketplace (despite its rightful claim to being one of the world’s largest economies), simply cannot equally assuage the stakeholder needs of five dozen “independent operators” – which is theoretically the approximate amount of entrenched interests that could stand to win or lose with the formal licensing of CA online sports betting.

…there is going to have to be some creative way for everyone to derive benefit,” Grove told SportsHandle

And that creativity may ultimately require no more (and no less) than a combined, systematic expansion of the statewide industry’s online sports betting and iGaming revenue potential before a legislative effort is able to pass muster.

In other words, it may take a similar percentage of a much larger, premeditated, and meticulously explored “revenue pie” (enhanced through peripheral, data-driven services that are adequately researched and troubleshot ahead of time by both tribal and commercial interests) to convince voters and policymakers alike that the “time to formally license CA online sports betting and iGaming” has finally arrived.

Thank you for reading COBets.

David Huber is a seasoned writer with over 15 years of experience covering the online poker, online casino, and online sports betting sectors. He has performed various roles within the iGaming industry since 2006 including: reporter, editor, virtual assistant, podcast host, and lead forum moderator.

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