Although he doubts California will legalize sports betting in the 2024 election, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins is still optimistic the most populous state in the US — by far — will one day welcome legal online sports betting.
Robins has that positive outlook for two main reasons, he said in a March YouTube interview with Joe Pompliano.
- Voter education will continue to grow.
- Sports betting momentum is impossible to fend off forever.
Voter education in California
Robins emphasized he believes Prop 27, which would have legalized online sports betting in California, failed so miserably in the 2022 election because of the mountainous amount of money California tribes spent in anti-Prop 27 advertising.
More time to digest the topic of legal sports betting and all its implications, Robins said, means more time for voters to form their own individual opinions.
“Eventually, I think consumers get educated enough,” Robins said. “But certainly the first time it’s on the ballot and it’s being contemplated and people are forming opinions — if someone wants to drop $220 (million), $230 (million), whatever-it-is million dollars in a single state of ad spend, they can certainly poison the well enough to kill it.
“I would think (that will change) because … the voter gets more educated. It’s not just this barrage of ads. They’ve had more time for friends and others to educate them on the topic.”
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California won’t want to be ‘outlier’
Robins said it’s “kind of crazy” Texas looks like it may legalize sports betting before California. He probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told him that four or five years ago.
Along those same lines, Robins just can’t make himself envision a scenario where the freight-train momentum of sports betting doesn’t eventually make its way to California in some form.
“It’s hard to imagine as this keeps going that California is going to be the only state or one of the only handful of states that doesn’t have online sports betting or doesn’t have any of the major brands,” Robins told Pompliano. “So, to me it almost feels like hard to imagine that that could exist. So with no other justification than that, I believe that as time goes on there will be a path.”
Robins went on to say that, eventually, when enough states offer legal sports betting, it may simply feel odd to a California voter to continue rejecting it.
“I think more and more states start — everybody’s like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re the only ones not doing this anymore?’ — so it starts to become more that way,” Robins said. “Over time, it feels more like you’re the outlier voting ‘no’ than voting ‘yes.’”
Tribes have the power moving forward
No matter what Robins says, California tribes proved they have the leverage in the 2022 election.
In the months since the November election, tribal leaders have been resolute. They say if California ever does offer sports betting, it will do so on tribal terms. One of those terms, some leaders have said, is that US sportsbooks could only enter the California market as technology providers for the tribes — not public-facing brands.