The poll, released on Wednesday, found 45% of voters support the idea, 33% are opposed and 22% remain undecided.
The findings illustrate the challenges supporters of sports betting will have come November, when at least one, and possibly three, ballot initiatives could be up for consideration.
Who Supports Sports Betting?
The poll, conducted earlier this month in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times, asked 4,477 registered voters how they felt about sports betting. It did not inquire about the specifics regarding the ballot proposals and did not ask about mobile sports betting.
Support for sports betting, unlike many issues facing voters, does not fall along strict party lines. A plurality of registered Democrats, Republicans, and independents, expressed support.
“It is rare these days for a political issue to not be seen as partisan. But legalizing sports betting in California appears to be one of them, at least for the time being,” said Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Government Studies at UC-Berkeley.
Not surprisingly, those who identify as sports enthusiasts are most likely to support the measure, while those who don’t, are opposed.
Men and minorities are also more supportive, while women and Whites are more often opposed.
A potential problem for supporters of sports betting is convincing those who are not sports enthusiasts to get on board. A plurality of voters – 47% – indicated they had only a passing interest at best, or no interest at all, in sports. Getting these voters to support something they are not taking part in, will be key.
“If you’re a sports fan, you think the whole world around you is made up of sports fans,” Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll, told The Los Angeles Times. “They will have to convince those who aren’t sports fans if they want an initiative to pass.”
California Sports Betting On The Ballot
As of today, there is one initiative on the ballot in November. It is supported by the tribes and would amend the state constitution to allow sports betting at various casinos and racetracks around the state. It would not, however, allow for mobile sports betting.
If passed, sports betting at the casinos would be legal on professional and collegiate events. Bets on California college teams would be banned unless they are playing in a tournament.
There are at least two other possible referendums that could also be on the ballot.
One, backed by a coalition of cities, would bring mobile sports betting to the state. It would allow for sports betting at casinos and race tracks. Like all ballot initiatives, it must gather nearly 1 million verified signatures from various parts of the state before it is approved to go before the voters.
A second proposal that has the support of the large sportsbooks would also legalize mobile sports betting in the state. Additionally, it would help fund homelessness programs in the state.
During a call with investors last week, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins touted the initiative.
“In California, we continue to work with a number of leading online sports betting operators in support of a campaign to bring regulated, safe, and responsible online sports betting to the state,” Robins said.
“Legal online sports betting is projected to bring hundreds of millions in tax revenue annually to the state to address two of the state’s most pressing issues: homelessness and mental health.”