California Sports Betting Voter Support Uncertain According To New Poll

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Californians are open to sports betting, but a new poll from the University of California, shows voters aren’t overly passionate about the issue.

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.”

Also read: Alaska Sports Betting Bill Introduced In State House | Missouri Sports Betting Proposals Backed By Pro Teams, Riverboats | Arkansas Mobile Sports Betting Approved Ahead of March Madness

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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