Survey Says California Voters Strongly Support Online Sports Betting Measure

Posted By Matthew Kredell on September 20, 2021

A recent survey shows strong support for the California mobile sports betting initiative backed by some of the biggest sportsbook operators.

Results indicate 62% of California voters surveyed support the measure, with only 25% opposed. The other 13% remained undecided.

Operators framed the initiative’s focus as establishing a fund addressing homelessness and mental health through revenues generated from sports betting. The survey demonstrates the connection resonates with voters.

“There is a lot of work to be done as a state to solve homelessness and the lack of mental health care treatment across this state,” said Nathan Click, spokesman for the initiative campaign. “These are issues at a crisis level in California, and the results show Californians are hungry for solutions.”

How researchers framing the CA sports betting survey

David Binder Research (DBR) conducted the survey for Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support. Seven sports betting operators led by BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel funded the initiative campaign.

DBR interviewed 2,400 California voters by telephone and online methods from July 14 to July 22.

Binder has an extensive history running polls for propositions and high-profile officials at the state and federal levels. He is a pollster for President Joe Biden, previously for President Barack Obama, and for Vice President Kamala Harris when she was a California senator. DBR also conducts polling for Gov. Gavin Newsom, including in his recent recall campaign.

DBR provided a title and summary for the initiative and asked voters how they would vote on the measure.

Fund For Homelessness, Mental Health Addiction Measure.
Establishes a dedicated fund to address homelessness and mental health. Funds can only be used on programs to provide permanent shelter for homeless people and to increase mental health and addiction services. Paid for by allowing regulated entities to offer sports wagering online and on mobile devices throughout California. Subject to independent audits and oversight.

The actual title and summary used for gathering signatures and on the ballot will be provided by the California Attorney General.

California sports betting initiative polling results

According to David Binder Research, the polling showed majority support from women and men, across all age groups, ethnic groups, and geographic areas of the state.

Also in the data:

  • Democrats supported the measure with 76% yes, 13% no.
  • Republicans slightly opposed the measure with 41% yes, 44% no.
  • 36% of voters offered strong support, saying they would definitely vote yes, with 15% saying they would definitely oppose.
  • Of those undecided, 26% lean toward support, and 10% lead toward opposing.

With the addition of the following basic messaging point from supporters, support increased from 62% to 66% while opposition dropped 1%:

“Supporters say that this measure will provide funding to address the homelessness crisis by increasing mental health and addiction services and to ensure that enough shelters are available to move homeless people from the street into long-term permanent housing. Funds can only be spent to increase mental health services and programs to address addiction, as well as providing more shelters to house the homeless. Independent audits and oversight will ensure the money is spent appropriately.”

More on the CA sports betting operator initiative

The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act pledges 85% of state revenue from online sports betting to a fund supporting homelessness and mental health services.

The other 15% goes toward economic development and assistance to tribal nations that don’t participate in sports wagering.

All online sportsbooks must partner with a federally recognized Indian tribe. Tribes can also develop their own platform.

Seven sports betting operators contributed a total of $100 million to back the campaign.

Under the initiative, operators pay an additional $100 million each for an initial license. That money goes into the homelessness fund. So does a 10% tax on online sports betting revenue.

Homelessness key issue for voters

The polling doesn’t so much show there’s support for legalizing mobile wagering in California. It more indicates how much California voters want homelessness addressed. And how they would welcome an additional funding source to do so.

As DBR put it in the findings:

“When presented with an opportunity to raise funds to reduce homelessness, increase mental health services and fight addiction, funded by allowing online sports betting in the state with oversight and accountability to ensure funds are spent appropriately, the vast majority of Californians say yes.”

The survey included an additional question on if California needs to spend more, less, or the same money addressing three areas covered by the initiative.

  • Reducing homelessness: 71% said California should spend more.
  • Increasing mental health services: 81% said California should spend more.
  • Increasing programs to fight addiction: 68% said California should spend more.

This is consistent with exit polls offered by CNN from last week’s recall election. Asked for the most important issue facing California, respondents put homelessness second with 22%, behind only the coronavirus.

Photo by AP / David Zalubowski
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His 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. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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