Gov. Newsom Opposes Prop 27 For Online CA Sports Betting

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Prop 27

With Prop 27 seemingly on the verge of failure, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday finally came out against the legalization of online CA sports betting. 

“Proposition 27 is bad for California,” Newsom said in a statement. “It would hurt California’s Indian Tribes, increase the risks of underage gambling, and push billions of dollars out of California and into the pockets of out-of-state corporations. 

“Vote No on 27.” 

Proposition 27 on California sports betting faces a Nov. 8 Election Day decision.

Prop 27 continues to poll poorly

Sportsbook-backed Prop 27, which would legalize online apps, is polling at only 26% support, according to the Public Policy Institute of California’s (PPIC) latest results. Tribal-backed Prop 26, which would permit retail at casinos and race tracks, is polling at 34% support. 

The PPIC poll released Wednesday night says just 9% of likely CA voters are personally invested in sports betting, while 48% say legalizing sports betting would be a bad thing.

PPIC describes itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.” It said its findings are based on Oct. 14-23 responses from 1,715 adult California residents.

Newsom Prop 27 stance aligns with tribes

Newsom’s stance aligns perfectly with that of the tribes, who consider Prop 27 failing a significant victory. A defeat of Prop 27 keeps the status quo and prevent online sports betting operators like FanDuel and DraftKings from accessing a market that tribes fear could expand to iCasino. 

Newsom could be attempting to curry favor with the tribes, given that all the polling data already points strongly toward Prop 27’s failure. 

“Newsom storms onto the battlefield after the battle and shoots the mortally wounded,” was how Richard Schuetz, former commissioner for the CA Gambling Control Commission, tweeted Wednesday

San Manuel statement

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, one of the most powerful tribes in CA, praised Newsom in a statement.

Said San Manuel chairwoman Lynn Valbuena:

“California Tribes are grateful for Governor Newsom’s opposition to Prop. 27. We thank him for standing with us to protect our sovereignty. Tribal gaming in California is beneficial for Tribes and for all of California. Prop. 27 would allow out of state corporations to interrupt that mutually beneficial relationship. Thank you, Governor Newsom for defending the best interests of Tribes and all Californians.”

Operators looking toward 2024

FanDuel CEO Amy Howe and DraftKings CEO Jason Robins recently all but conceded on their quest to get legal online sports betting via Prop 27. Howe and Robins expressed hope about trying to get something done in 2024.

However, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians Chairman Mark Macarro recently said that internal tribal polling showed 62% of voters are against CA online sports betting. 

“They don’t want mobile anything. They just don’t. As long as that is the case, it doesn’t matter how much money (operators) throw around,” Macarro told LSR in Las Vegas. “If you work for these companies, the people who work for your company are … wasting a lot of money. Based on some poor research.” 

Tribal view on CA sports betting pathway

More than $400 million has been spent on advertising around Prop 26 and Prop 27. It is worth noting that a pair of coalitions with tribal gaming investment dumped in over $100 million each in opposition of Prop 27, with hopes of swaying voters in their direction. 

Asked how something gets done with legal California online sports betting in 2024, Macarro said, “The pathway I guess is changing the hearts and minds of voters in the state of California in a sincere way.” 

Macarro thinks there’s little place for sportsbooks at the bargaining table going forward. 

“I don’t think that’s part of the strategy that we need to engage them,” Macarro said. “Tribes need to be the ones to decide what the framework for legalization looks like. I suppose there can be others in the car, but if the tribes aren’t in the driver’s seat, we’re going to be taken for a ride.

“Inviting the DraftKings, the FanDuels, etc., as subservient partners — subservience isn’t the issue. It’s that they would be sitting essentially in parity with tribes in figuring out legalization. That’s not our goal: how do we bring these folks in so that we can legalize together? No.”