California Sports Betting: Prop 27 Group Cuts TV Ad Buy, Report States

With less than seven weeks before the election, proponents of Proposition 27, the measure to legalize online sports betting in California, are looking to go in a new direction.

A screen cap from a commercial for Proposition 27, a California ballot measure that asks voters to legalize online sports betting. This week, supporters of the measure revealed they will now look to reach voters through direct pieces and cut back on commercial spending. (Image: Californians for Solutions/YouTube)

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support, the committee that’s nearly $170 million from seven national sports betting operators, yanked its television ad buy in the Golden State’s major markets. The paper cites campaign ad trackers that indicate the group plans only to run on network TV in Los Angeles next month and on cable in markets like San Diego, Sacramento, and the Bay Area.

The measure is one of two sports betting measures that are slated to appear on the ballot. The other is Proposition 26, a tribal-backed measure that – among other things – would allow in-person sportsbooks at tribal casinos and state-licensed racetracks. However, a good deal of tribal gaming nations’ efforts has been spent on campaigning against Prop 27.

Californians for Solutions spokesperson Nathan Click confirmed the move in a comment to the Chronicle.

“Clearly, the saturated television market is not benefiting either side, so our campaign is putting those dollars toward additional direct communication with voters in order to pass Prop. 27 — the only sports betting measure that provides real solutions to communities and nonprofit organizations in California,” Click said.

The new tack for Prop 27 proponents comes less than a week after an independent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 54% of registered voters plan to vote no on the measure that’s on the Nov. 8 ballot. That’s compared to just 34% who support it.

While Election Day is less than seven weeks away, there’s actually less time than that for online sports betting supporters to turn things around. Election officials in California’s 58 counties will mail ballots to all active registered voters on or by Oct. 10.

Opposing Group: ‘Prop 27 is in Serious Trouble’

The PPIC survey results show similar findings to an internal poll conducted for “Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming,” one of two tribal-funded groups opposing the online sports betting measure. In a memo Tuesday, the group released its latest results showing 58% reject and only 24% support Prop 27.

That internal poll was conducted after the PPIC poll was conducted but before those results were released.

Prop 27 proponents have pushed the message that tax funding from legalized online sports betting would provide hundreds of millions for social services for California communities and economic development initiatives for non-gaming tribes. However, the ballot measure still has been rejected by both Republican and Democratic state parties and key legislative leaders in Sacramento.

More importantly, the selling points for Prop 27 appear to have not won over voters.

With opposition above 50%, with opposition growing as voters learn more, with voters believing Prop 27 will lead to negative outcomes, and with voters rejecting the premise that it will help address homelessness, Prop 27 is in serious trouble,” the Californians for Tribal Sovereignty polling memo stated.

Prop 26 also has its fair share of opponents, as the Republican Party has also rejected it. In addition, several municipal labor unions have announced their opposition, as cities with cardroom casinos fear a provision in the tribal measure that could lead to lawsuits against the gaming venues that generate significant tax revenue for local governments.

While there has been no independent polling released on Prop 26, some gaming industry experts believe that measure is likely not to succeed either.

Who’s Behind Prop 27

Across all four groups that have staked a position either for or against at least one of the measures, more than $412 million during the campaign. That’s the most ever raised on a ballot initiative in California.

Through Monday, Californians for Solutions has raised $169.2 million of that total, according to records from Cal-Access, the database maintained by the Secretary of State’s office.

The largest share of the contributions come from FanDuel and DraftKings, which have provided $35 million and $34.2 million, respectively. Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, and Fanatics have given $25 million each, while Bally Bet and WynnBET each have contributed $12.5 million.

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