California Voters Remain Lukewarm about Sports Betting Legislation

The 2022 election cycle saw the defeat of a pair of sports betting ballot initiatives in California. This year, the issue isn’t gaining much traction with voters. Polling data from FM3 Research, a California-based polling firm, shows that just 13% of California voters strongly support regulated sports betting, with an additional 17% somewhat supporting it. These numbers have only seen a marginal increase from the previous year. Opposition to sports wagering has also declined slightly, with 7% of voters remaining undecided.

The introduction of two sports betting proposals last month may not resonate well with voters, as there seems to be little appetite among them to reconsider the issue in the 2024 election. Tribal gaming leaders in the state have expressed their disapproval of the recent sports betting efforts. The “Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act” and the “Tribal Gaming Protection Act” were filed without the input of Tribal gaming leaders, which has caused tension. At least 18 California tribes with gaming interests in the state voted against the sports betting plans, with 21 member tribes signing a letter opposing the proposals.

The deadline for gathering comments from the public has passed, and the due date for amendments to the proposals is December 1st. Despite these tight deadlines, it is uncertain whether the Tribes will change their stance. Many Tribal leaders believe that sports betting in California may not be viable until 2026 at the earliest, and mobile betting may be even further out. The selling point of bringing black market sportsbook operators out of the shadows has also raised concerns among the Tribes, as it could potentially threaten Tribal sovereignty.

Overall, it appears that the state of California is not ready to embrace sports betting at this time. While efforts to introduce sports betting may continue, it will be an uphill battle to gain support from both voters and Tribal gaming leaders.