LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Major commercial online operators hinted Tuesday at waving the white flag in their quest to get legal California sportsbooks this year via Prop 27.
“We absolutely live to fight another day,” FanDuel CEO Amy Howe said of CA sports betting at G2E in Las Vegas. “We believe there is a path to get there.
“Whether we get there in 2022, or, hopefully, we get there in 2024, we believe it is the right path.”
Why operators are thinking 2024
Proposition 27, which would legalize online sports betting in California, is polling at just 27%, according to a recent survey conducted by UC Berkeley and the LA Times prior to the November election.
The sportsbook-backed initiative also cut its TV ad spend in major CA markets. That eye-opening decision was viewed as a retreat of sorts.
“I think the more time people in California get exposed to the messages, and the more that they’re able to sift through what’s true and what’s not, I think you’ll see more momentum towards hopefully in 2024,” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said. “Hopefully even in 2022, but more probably more likely in 2024 that this is getting passed.”
Robins bemoans Prop 27 opposition ad spend
Many CA tribes would view the failure of Prop 27 as a victory. A multimillion-dollar advertising battle between the sides has been marred by misinformation campaigns.
“I don’t think anybody believes either side,” an industry source told LSR last month. “You’re not going to solve homelessness, and this isn’t really about protecting tribal sovereignty.”
Tribal-backed Prop 26, which would legalize retail sports betting via tribal casinos, is not expected to pass either. Yet tribes consider the status quo a win, as they keep online gaming via sportsbook companies at bay.
“If an opposition side is going to spend over $100 million, it’s just tough to beat,” Robins said. “It doesn’t matter what your issue is, it’s tough to beat. And going and trying to outspend that actually probably makes it worse because then people just get sick of seeing all the ads all the time.”
CA tribes take Prop 27 victory lap
Victor Rocha, conference chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, tweeted his disgust with Howe and Robins’s comments Tuesday night.
“Tone deaf, delusional & shortsighted. I think Jason might be getting it. Amy needs to be educated. She might live in LA but she knows nothing of California. I’m guessing bruised ego,” Rocha wrote.
At a tribal panel earlier in the day, Rocha said of FanDuel, DraftKings and other major operators: “It just shows they don’t get it. They’re not going to be our partners. They’re going to be our tech providers.”
Tribes plan to control CA sports betting future
So how do things move forward?
The tribes say any legalization efforts will run through them, not the operators.
“Give tribal leaders the space to have conversations. Don’t repeat the same mistake. Stay out of California. Respect the tribal conversations,” Jacob Mejia, executive director of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, said.