New polling finds support for California betting on the increase, but still may not pass

October 22, 2022 CG California

A few weeks ago, the first credible polling emerged ahead of the November 8 vote on sports betting in California. It was, at the time, blanket bad news for anyone hoping to bet in the state, as it showed both Propositions 26 and 27 being solidly rejected by the voters. However, new polling by SurveyUSA indicates that all may not be lost for sports bettors in the Golden State, with one of the bills standing a fighting chance of passing in November’s vote.

Proposition 26, which would allow for in-person sports betting at casino facilities and racetracks, picked up 43% in the new survey by comparison with the 31% it had achieved in a Berkeley poll earlier this month. Not only does this poll show a higher number in favour than the last one, it also represents a lead for the Yes vote over the No total, which polled at 32%. With the “Don’t Know/Other” number sitting at a statistically significant 25%, it hints at a real chance that some form of betting could be permitted in California sooner than expected.

Proposition 27, a measure that would allow online sports betting and give out-of-state sportsbooks access to the Californian market, also did better in the Survey USA poll, but the news for online betting supporters was broadly less positive. Although the Yes number was again significantly increased – showing 37% compared to the 27% of the Berkeley poll – it still trailed behind the No vote which recorded 43% support in this one.

Importantly, the poll’s crosstab numbers – which break down how the vote is shaping up among different demographics and types of voter – showed that people who are informed and interested with regard to the vote are more likely to be in favour compared to those being asked to consider it for the first time. Sports bettors, and issue voters in general, may be considered more likely to vote when the polling opens in November. That’s not an ironclad assumption, but if it proves to be true, it could mean that Proposition 26 will pass in November.

This, however, is still bad news at least initially for the online sportsbooks who hoped to operate in California, and for prospective online bettors. Part of the legislation bringing these propositions to the polling stations specified that if both measures were to receive a majority of votes for Yes, then the one with the highest margin would be the one favored for implementation. From all polling so far and in terms of open public support, Prop 26 seems to lead its rival bill.

This fact may have already filtered through to the sportsbooks, whose representatives have in recent weeks been using more considered, “future” language in their pronouncements. Online sportsbooks feel that they can and will be operational in California in the near future, but do not expect the vote to give them that chance, and are already beginning to talk of increasing awareness among voters with a view to a more widely-supported proposition on the ballot in 2024.

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