On November 28, 2023, a report indicated that California voters are still not showing much support for sports betting. This is in contrast to the 2022 election cycle when two sports betting ballot initiatives were defeated in the state.
Polling data from the California-based FM3 Research showed that only 13% of voters strongly support bringing regulated sports betting to the state, with an additional 17% somewhat supporting it. This data represents a mere 2% increase in total support for sports betting compared to the previous year. Total opposition to sports betting has declined by the same amount, while 7% of voters remained undecided.
This lack of enthusiasm for sports betting is also reflected in the opposition from Tribal gaming leaders in the state. The introduction of two sports betting proposals last month has drawn criticism from Tribal casino entities. Tribal gaming leaders have voiced their opposition to the measures, making it clear that any changes to Class III gaming in California would need to involve Tribal input.
In fact, 18 California Tribes with gaming interests in the state voted against the pair of sports betting plans, with five abstaining and none voting in favor of the pitches. Twenty-one of the California Nationals Indian Gaming Association’s 52 member Tribes also signed a letter opposing the proposals.
The deadline for gathering public comments on the sports betting proposals was Monday, with the due date for amendments set for December 1. However, even if these deadlines are met, it remains uncertain whether the Tribes will change their stance. Tribal gaming leaders have indicated that they view sports betting as a 2026 issue at the earliest, and that mobile betting is even further out on the horizon.
It is clear from the polling data and the opposition from Tribal gaming leaders that California voters and Tribes are not currently supportive of sports betting. This indicates that the introduction of sports betting in the state may face significant challenges in the upcoming election cycle.