Californians voted against two proposals that would have opened a multi-billion dollar sports betting market in the most populous U.S. state.
In the mid-term elections held on Tuesday, residents were asked to vote on two measures Proposition 26 and Proposition 27. The first was backed by native tribes and would have allowed sports betting in their casinos. The second would have opened the market in general.
According to the Associated Press, 70.5 percent of voters were against legalizing sports betting, with only 29.5 percent in favor. In terms of mobile sports betting, the result was even more emphatic, with 83.4 percent against.
The defeat follows the most expensive lobbying campaign over a ballot measure in U.S. history, with parties on both sides spending a combined $450 million.
Largest U.S. sports betting market
For the gambling industry, there was a lot of stake, with California seen as having the potential to be the country’s largest sports betting market.
The state will likely now have to wait for 2024 before getting another chance.
The legislators working in favour of the proposition argue that it would help to raise money for the state and to reduce crime and money laundering from illegal gambling.
Native tribes, however, have opposed a fully open market, claiming it violates 1999 tribal gaming compacts, which grant exclusivity of gaming operations to tribes within the state.
Despite the lobbying and back and forth between competing factions, repeated opinion polls had shown that the issue was not a priority for the Californian public.
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