Prop 27 Campaign Shifts Advertising Focus After Disappointing Polling

Written By Matthew Kredell on September 21, 2022

Californians will see fewer commercials related to legalizing sports betting over the final six weeks prior to the November election.

Online sports betting Prop 27 is pulling back on television and radio advertising. This comes after polling last week from the Public Policy Institute of California showed Prop 27 was losing the broadcast battle.

The PPIC poll showed only 34% of California voters would vote yes on Prop 27.

Rather than continue spending lavishly on television and radio commercials, Yes on 27 spokesperson Nathan Click tells PlayCA the campaign to legalize online sports betting in California will put that money toward targeting voters directly with digital video and mail.

“Clearly, the saturated television market is not benefiting either side, so our campaign is putting those dollars toward additional direct communication with voters in order to pass Prop 27,” Click said.

Television advertising didn’t have desired impact

Most Californian TV watchers probably couldn’t go a day without seeing an ad related to Prop 27 over the past couple of months. Advertisements ran during shows such as “The Bachelorette,” “Jeopardy!,” Dodgers games and the first week of the NFL season.

The Prop 27 campaign and two tribal-backed no campaigns spent aggressively on warring advertisements over California sports betting.

Yes on 27 tried different tactics on the ads:

Through last week, Prop 27 had spent about $90 million on broadcast TV, cable TV and radio buys since July. The spending peaked during the first week of the NFL season, when the campaign spent nearly $17 million on the week.

But with each ad countered by one from a no campaign, Prop 27 could never make up any ground.

“Prop 27 has taken over $100 million dollars in misleading and false TV attacks – $45 million before we even qualified for the ballot,” Click said. “It’s telling the same opponents funding these ads haven’t spent a dime on commercials supporting their own sports betting proposal, Prop 26.”

Consequently, the Prop 27 campaign canceled all TV and radio buys set to run this week and next. Reservations remaining on pre-bought air space leading up to the election total only about $3 million a week.

Prop 27 will continue spending campaign dollars

The Prop 27 campaign is funded with $169.2 million by sportsbook operators.

Click indicated that the pull back on TV advertising isn’t a sign that the Prop 27 campaign is waiving the white flag and saving its money.

The campaign coffers will just be emptied elsewhere in an attempt to find a path to victory.

“Twenty-five states have authorized safe and responsible online sports betting and cracked down on the illicit and unsafe offshore sports betting market,” Click said. “California should be next.”

Prop 27 opponents also aren’t claiming victory or resting on their laurels.

Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Yes on 26/No on 27 campaign, told PlayCA:

“We’re not surprised by this announcement. Voters are flat out rejecting the out-of-state gambling corporations and their $170 million campaign of deception. That said, Prop 27 is still on the ballot and still poses a significant threat to tribal self-reliance and all Californians. The election is still two months away. We’ll remain vigilant until election day to ensure this dangerous measure is defeated.”

Photo by Shutterstock / PlayCA
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Matthew Kredell

A fifth-generation Californian, Matthew's reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. After graduating from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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