While vote counting is ongoing, the Associated Press has already called both races, with the proposals set to be defeated.
The failures of both the tribal-backed Proposition 26 and commercial-supported Proposition 27 leaves unclear the future of sports betting in California, which is the most populous state in the US.
As of 5am ET, Proposition 27 stood at 16.4% for and 83.6% opposed with 38% of votes counted so far. This compares with its rival ballot measure, which is behind 70.7% to 29.3%, also with 38% of votes counted according to data supplied by the New York Times.
The failures of both proposals is a major setback in the expansion of sports betting in the US, which has exploded in the years since the Supreme Court ruling on Murphy vs NCAA repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), allowing sports betting to spread across the country.
The campaigning on the measures was the most expensive in history, but at times was noted for taking on a very negative character, especially during its later stages.
Expected defeat for California sports betting
At G2E when defeat seemed likely, Fanduel CEO Amy Howe declared that the industry lives “to fight another day” and signalled the business’ intentions to try again in 2024. However there is no doubt that the failure is a step backward for a sector which is used to breakneck expansion.
In September, the constellation of operators who backed Proposition 27 pulled funding for the campaign as polling showed the majority of the public opposed the proposed change to the law. While the lack of success for Proposition 26 will a disappointment to the 78-strong coalition of gaming tribes behind the ballot measure, tribes had also fought against Proposition 27, as it would have eroded the tribal monopoly on gaming in the state.
Rival ballot measures
The retail-orientated Proposition 26 would have legalised sports betting on tribal land and horse racing tracks in California, imposing a 10% tax on profit derived from such activities.
This contrasts with the online-focused Proposition 27, which would have legalised online sports betting. Under the proposed law, such agreements would have been subject to a $100m (£87m/€99m) fee for a five-year licence – in addition to also being liable for a $10m renewal fee. Because of these costs, it was expected that the market would be limited to all but the largest operators.
Nearly $500m was spent by the campaigns during the election, making it the most expensive exercise of direct democracy in the history of the United States.