California online sports betting could be on the November 2024 ballot, but it’s unlikely as advocates appear to have missed a vital deadline in the process to put the question before voters.
Today, Aug. 22, was when sports betting advocates should have submitted their petitions to the California Attorney General’s Office (COAG) for signature validation. If they had done so, they could have requested “a circulating title and summary” as they awaited word from the California Secretary of State (CSS) regarding the proposition’s inclusion on the ballot on Nov. 5, 2024.
Instead, none of the 25 initiatives listed as “active measures” by the COAG today mentioned sports. There may be submissions that aren’t yet listed yet, as COAG names Oct. 26 as its own deadline to “proponents” to begin campaigning.
So next month may reveal more about possible California online sports betting ballot measures. However, none of the online gambling operators are talking about such a move.
Perhaps weighing into that decision is the heavy marketing cost entities like DraftKings and FanDuel paid in 2022 to ensure voters in the state with 39 million residents knew about their cause. The operators spent millions of dollars in California.
Even so, two sports betting legalization measures failed in November 2022:
- 83.3% of Californians voted against Prop 27, which would have legalized online sports betting
- 70.1% of electors said “no” to Prop 26, designed to allow retail sports betting on tribal lands
California Online Sports Betting Props Revisited
In 2022, pollsters from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) International Center for Gaming Regulation (ICGR) predicted the propositions would fail.
They were right. However, UNLV predictions about a do-over may not prove as accurate.
During a Nov. 2, 2022, UNLV webinar, Professor Kathryn R.L. Rand said she believed California sports betting propositions would return, seeking voter approval in 2024. Rand is the Floyd B. Sperry Professor of Law and co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota (UND).
Rand thought a return to the ballot was inevitable, considering so many states have legalized sports betting since 2018. Indeed, Kentucky is slated to be the 37th legal sports betting jurisdiction when retail sportsbooks launch there on Sept. 7.
However, her projection may turn out to be off by a couple of years.
Still, Rand said in 2022, even if retail sports betting legalization fails, online sportsbook operators will try. Or vice versa, said the visiting professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law in the Indian Nations Gaming and Governance Program (INGGP). She believes sports betting legalization advocates will continue to pursue it until it becomes a reality, Rand said in 2022.
Her colleague, who also spoke on the 2022 UNLV webinar, Steven A. Light, didn’t immediately return a request for comment from Bonus today. Light is a UND professor of political science and public administration, as well as an INGGP visiting professor.
Meanwhile, tribes in California and beyond are faring well in courtrooms and edging toward having more comprehensive rights to offer legal online gambling. So eventually, California tribes may sue for the right to offer sports betting before another ballot measure returns.