California Sports Betting Propositions Boast Different Revenue Projections

Written By Matthew Kredell on July 26, 2022 - Last Updated on August 17, 2022
Prop Label Ballot CA Sports Betting

State officials released the language that would appear on the ballot for California sports betting Propositions 26 and 27. The initial ballot language stresses the difference in revenue projects between the sports wagering measures on the November ballot.

Released for public display Tuesday by the Secretary of State, the Voter Information Guide included the first glimpse at ballot labels for the propositions. California Attorney General Rob Bonta developed the language.

Ballot labels are significant because they appear on the actual ballot. The maximum 75-word summaries are right there when voters either fill in yes or no on either California sports betting initiative.

Unless changed by a court order, voters will see the figure “$500 million annually” when they look at Prop. 27. Prop. 26 shows increased state revenues “possibly reaching tens of millions annually.”

The Voter Information Guide also includes updated titles and summaries. Ballot language is subject to court-ordered changes through Aug. 15. After that time, the Secretary of State will finalize labels/titles/summaries.

Various campaigns tell PlayCA they are closely reviewing the language to see if they will pursue any changes.

CA sports betting proposition revenue projections

The $500 million number comes from the fiscal impact report done by California’s Legislative Analyst and Department of Finance.

However, the previous title and summary used for signature collection on Prop. 27 phrased it as revenue “potentially reaching the mid-hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”

The new ballot label reads “possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars but not likely to exceed $500 million annually.”

That $500 million figure in numbers with a dollar sign in front seems to grab one’s attention better.

The fiscal impact for Prop. 26 notes that the revenue “possibly reaching tens of millions annually” would be offset by increased state regulatory and enforcement costs “that could reach the low tens of millions of dollars annually. Essentially, it’s possible no revenue is produced for the state.

However, tribes backing Prop. 26 never were trying to compete with Prop. 27 over revenue. Prop. 26 adds sports betting, craps and roulette as amenities for in-person tribal casinos, and sports betting in-person at horse racetracks. Prop. 27 is a larger, statewide expansion of regulated sports wagering through mobile apps.

Tribal campaign questions $500 million figure

Consistent with recent ads from another tribal coalition opposed to Prop 27, Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming spokesperson Kathy Fairbanks said voters shouldn’t expect Prop 27 to produce $500 million in annual revenue.

Fairbanks provided the following statement to PlayCA:

“The revenue figures are wildly inflated for Prop. 27. First, 90 percent of the profits immediately go into the pockets of the online operators. Worse, of the 10 percent that’s supposed to go to Californians, Prop. 27 contains hidden loopholes allowing the corporate operators to deduct their $100 million licensing fee, promotional play and free bets, leaving little left over. Other states like New York and Colorado found that actual revenues were far below what they were promised. No doubt we’ll see the same thing in California.”

Nathan Click, the spokesperson for the operator campaign backing Prop. 27, countered:

“Those claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. California’s non-partisan Legislative Office calculated the fiscal impact of every initiative and looked closely at the experiences of other states that have legalized online sports betting. They found 27 is the only one that would raise hundreds of millions in permanent solutions to homelessness and mental health care – far more than any other sports betting proposal.”

Prop. 26 tribal in-person CA sports betting ballot label

Here’s the official language that would appear on the ballot for Prop. 26, subject to court-ordered changes through Aug. 15:

ALLOWS IN-PERSON ROULETTE, DICE GAMES, SPORTS WAGERING ON TRIBAL LANDS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Also allows: sports wagering at certain horseracing tracks; private lawsuits to enforce certain gambling laws. Directs revenues to the General Fund, problem-gambling programs, enforcement. Fiscal impact: Increased state revenues, possibly reaching tens of millions of dollars annually. Some of these revenues would support increased state regulatory and enforcement costs that could reach the low tens of millions of dollars annually.

Prop. 27 mobile CA sports betting ballot label

Here’s the official language that would appear on the ballot for Prop, 27, subject to court-ordered changes through Aug. 15:

ALLOWS ONLINE AND MOBILE SPORTS WAGERING OUTSIDE TRIBAL LANDS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Allows Indian tribes and affiliated businesses to operate online/mobile sports wagering outside tribal lands. Directs revenues to regulatory costs, homelessness programs, nonparticipating tribes. Fiscal impact: Increased state revenues, possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars but not likely to exceed $500 million annually. Some revenues would support state regulatory costs, possibly eaching the mid-tens of millions of dollars annually.

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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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