Like many political observers on the Left Coast, West Hollywood resident Rob Pyers was shocked by the epic margin by which Proposition 27 was rejected in California last week.
He started digging a bit, and soon after discovered that this particular sports betting initiative had done as well at the polls as the attempt a century ago to free owners from the burden of providing non-combustible housing and an 82-year-long attempt to open up some of California’s finest land for oil and gas drilling.
Pyers, a self-proclaimed “political junkie” who is the research director of a nonpartisan state-run political database, created a database of initiatives using a combination of the UC Hastings ballot proposals and the repository. initiatives, Ballotpedia. He filled in all the blanks by going through ballot statements for the past 100 years, and then, as Proposition 27 crumbled, he produced this little nugget:
California’s Proposition 27 hovers around 84% no, which would rank it the sixth-worst blowout for a ballot question out of more than a century of initiatives. pic.twitter.com/24audrLCTi
— Rob Piers (@rpyers) November 9, 2022
On Wednesday morning, Proposition 27 had the support of only 17% of voters.
To put that into perspective: California voters have been asked to decide on 1,291 ballot proposals since 1910, according to Ballotpedia. At Pyers’ tweet, Proposition 27 was in the 0.4th percentile in terms of performance. Quite a modest company, indeed.
The scale of defeat is epic
The proposal would have enabled statewide mobile betting with digital platforms connected to tribal casinos. A second betting initiative, Proposition 26, would have allowed retail betting only, along with the addition of roulette and craps at tribal casinos. It also included a section that would have changed the way arcades could be sued.
Proposition 26 was also defeated, with just 32% of voters backing it Wednesday morning.
Despite the loss, many in the tribal gaming community viewed Election Day as a good outcome since Proposition 27, the one backed by mobile sportsbook industry leaders BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetFanatic, Bally Bet , Barstool Sportsbook and WynnBET, went down to defeat.
Although Proposition 27 has long been declared dead by pollsters and even its proponents, state election officials are still counting the ballots. At first, Proposition 27 had the support of only 16% of voters, but has since moved ahead of three of the most unpopular propositions in California history: one around the Court of Appeals in 1937, a around taxation in 1938, and one around the closing of shops on Sundays in 1930.
As depressing as those Depression-era electoral losses were, the failure of Propositions 27 was just as painful for its supporters and stunning for political insiders.
“This could be one of the biggest defeats of a sponsored voting initiative across the country,” said Brendan Bussmann, director of Las Vegas-based gaming consultancy B Global. “Last spring, 1.6 million people signed a petition to put it on the ballot. While this doesn’t always translate to affirmative votes, the total final votes versus total signatures is significant.
As of Tuesday morning, the proposal had received 1.4 million affirmative votes, two million less than the number of signatures its supporters racked up to put it on the ballot. Of course, it’s not entirely because California citizens weren’t ready to legalize sports betting. In total, supporters and opponents of both proposals spent $400 million on the campaigns, making them the most expensive proposals in US history. Of that $400 million, two separate ‘No of 27’ groups spent around $220 million to kill the proposal, while a coalition of operators spent just over $158 million trying to get it done. adopt. Several other groups have spent tens of millions supporting or opposing Proposition 26.
Five proposals that did even worse
Proposition 27’s margin of defeat will prove historic in the long run, no matter where it ends up landing on Pyers’ list. How bad was that? For comparison, here are five proposals in California history that voters had more distaste for:
Proposition 101, 1988: Insurance companies, fearing reform as consumer groups demanded lower premiums, designed this Trojan as an alternative to Proposition 103. The latter would have required state approval before insurance companies could insurers can implement property and casualty insurance rates. It also reduced existing rates by 20%. The companies responded with this proposal, which would have been much more respectful of their results. Voters had none. A whopping 86.7% of them answered “no”. Meanwhile, Proposition 103 narrowly passed, with 51.3% of the vote.
Proposition 24, 1914: Apparently, Californians weren’t thrilled with their leaders 108 years ago either, as 85% of them rejected an offer to raise salaries for members and employees of the US Assembly and Senate. ‘State. How much were they looking for? Why, a whopping $600 a day… for the 120 legislators and their staff. Apparently voters didn’t think what they were doing on the eve of World War I was worth the less than $5 a day they would earn on average. By the way, $5 in 1914 would have the purchasing power of about $150 today.
Proposition 13, 1940: If you’ve recently taken a nice hike or strolled along the beach in California, you could thank the voters of 1940 for all that peace and quiet. They outright rejected a measure that would have leased or sold state park land containing oil or gas deposits. Even more than 80 years ago, Californians knew how precious their state’s natural beauty was and took steps to protect it.
Proposition 24, 1938: Relatedly, 85% of voters said “no thanks” to a proposal that would have bid on 11 state-owned parcels of land in Huntington Beach for oil drilling. It also set requirements for royalties based on the amount of oil drilled and required a minimum of five wells per parcel. Considering the state of the economy during the Great Depression, having the foresight to protect this beautiful stretch of coast is impressive.
Proposition 5, 1922: After California passed laws requiring owners of flammable wood apartment buildings and hotels to build fireproof roofs and help their residents avoid painful deaths, landlords tried to make a quick snap on California voters. This proposal would have repealed these laws. Opposition groups wrote: “The limitation of space prohibits even a brief reference to all the bad characteristics of [the referendum].” Voters agreed, rejecting the proposal with 84.45% of the vote.
The tribes could have the upper hand
So the defeat of Proposition 27 now paves the way for more attempts to bring sports betting to Californians and, crucially, the tribes remain viable players in this drama. As 27 prepared to suffer his ignominious defeat, many in the tribal community celebrated his demise, with some even describing it in historical terms.
“You have to understand that we are going to protect our homes and we are going to take care of our people,” said Graton Rancheria Federated Tribes Tribal Chief Greg Sarris. “Think of the Trail of Tears and how the Indians were sent to the middle of nowhere and how things have changed. They want to take our golden egg, feed it and hatch it. But we will feed it and hatch it.
Bussmann called the two competing initiatives a “buzzsaw” for California voters confused by message exchanges in the days and weeks leading up to Election Day. Proponents of Proposition 27 have spent more than $150 million to push it through, but tribes have spent millions defeating it while simultaneously pushing their own initiative.
Sports betting is certainly not dead in the greatest state.
“I think California is too big a place for people to walk away from completely, but the tribes have shown they have the power and the money to get the results they want,” the consultant said. politician John Pappas during an IGB webinar shortly after the election. “I don’t think we can look at Michigan or Connecticut [as a framework to follow]. We need a one-stop solution for California.