In the wake of Prop 27 ballot defeats last Tuesday, analysis has uncovered just how exorbitant the campaign for commercial sports betting in California was. Only 17% of voters said ‘Yes’ to the ballot, meaning that its proponents spent roughly $100 for every vote they received.
This has been described as “one of California’s most spectacular election fails,” by The Mercury News. The gambling giants behind Prop 27 – Bally's, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, Penn Entertainment and WynnBet – spent over $630m in total.
To understand the degree of failure Prop 27 suffered in cash per vote, it is useful to compare it to Proposition 1 – a ballot that passed last Tuesday. Prop 1 cemented abortion rights to the state constitution and did so spending only $3 per ‘Yes’ vote.
San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser commented: “The ones that spend lots of money are the ones that have a really narrow base of support. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Prop 1. What you need to spend money on are things that only help your mobile gambling company."
Prop 26, also known as the Tribal sports betting ballot, was set up in direct opposition to Prop 27 and also failed to pass. However, it spent $40 per ‘Yes’ vote in contrast to the commercial operator's bill and is seen to have succeeded in undermining Prop 27. Kousser remarked: “Maybe the tribes won by losing.”
Prop 27 adverts were reined in a few weeks ago when it became apparent that the ballot was highly likely to fail. However, early advertising is essential to passing measures in US politics and pro-Prop 27 advocates pumped money into marketing well before they realized it was a lost cause.
The data used in this article was made available by the California Secretary of State.