California Sports Betting Measure to Aid Homeless Backed by Voters in Poll

Poll results released Friday morning show 59 percent of likely voters would support amending the California state Constitution to allow commercial sports betting operators to offer mobile wagering applications with proceeds to support social services, like programs for the homeless.

Steph Curry
Steph Curry
Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors drives for a layup against the Denver Nuggets in an NBA playoff game in San Francisco Thursday night. A poll released Friday morning showed California voters supported a measure to allow online sports betting in the state. (Image: ESPN)

Likely voters favor the Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act by a more than 2-to-1 margin, according to the survey conducted by David Binder Research. Just 28 percent said they plan to vote against the measure, with 13 percent not sure.

The measure has the backing of seven operators, and those companies have pledged to spend $100 million in a campaign to get it on the ballot and approved. Supporters need to get nearly 1 million signatures from California registered voters, and those signatures need to be verified by the end of June in order for the measure to make November’s ballot.

Should it make the ballot, it almost certainly faces competition with at least one other sports betting measure. Last year, election officials verified a measure allowing retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos and state-licensed racetracks got the requisite number of signatures needed to go on this year’s general election ballot. A contentious fight is expected, especially if more than one measure makes the ballot.

According to a poll memo, the survey included a “simulated” ballot with participants getting information about the commercial measure, the tribal retail sports betting proposal, and a potential third initiative that would allow tribal casinos to offer mobile sports betting apps. The memo said support for the Solutions to Homelessness measure still enjoyed “double-digit” support.

By the end of the survey, the Solutions Act remained more popular than either the qualified in-person tribal initiative or the potential online tribal initiative,” the memo stated.

David Binder Research surveyed 1,600 likely voters from March 29 to April 4. The firm administered surveys online and through phone calls to both mobile and landline numbers. The survey’s margin of error is 2.5 percent.

Survey Finds Strong Support Statewide

As stated in its title, the measure would legalize mobile sportsbooks and use the license and tax proceeds to provide funding to combat homelessness and provide additional support for mental health programs across the state. It also would provide some funding for tribal economic development endeavors.

Commercial sports betting operators would pay $100 million to get a license in the largest state in the US. Tribal operators would also be allowed and would only need to pay $10 million, but they would face restrictions on how those can be branded.

The survey found that Democrats and independent voters are the strongest supporters, at plus-45 percentage points and plus-31 percentage points, respectively. Net support by Democrats is more than 10 times larger than the net support from Republicans.

The results also found that all parts of the state “support the concept” of the commercial-backed measure. The strongest support came from the state’s Central Coast region – the counties between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. That region supports the measure by 48 points.

San Diego County offers 38-point support. Los Angeles County backs the measure by 33 percentage points, while the Bay Area endorses it by nearly 30 points.

The results of the poll seemingly contradict another taken earlier this month by a pollster backed by the tribal-backed Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming. That survey showed support for the sportsbooks’ measure at just 36 percent, down from 42 percent six months ago.

Key Deadline Looms for Sports Betting Petition

According to the California Secretary of State’s office, constitutional amendments need 997,139 verified signatures from registered voters in order to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.

State officials recommended that petitions be turned in this past Tuesday in order to give elections officials enough time to verify the signatures. However, the more critical deadline is June 30. That’s the day Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber must certify measures and determine their eligibility for the November election.

Solutions for Homelessness reported reaching the 25 percent threshold on signatures in January. Supporters have six months to circulate petitions to gather the necessary signatures, and according to the Secretary of State’s office, the deadline for the commercial sports betting measure is Tuesday.

“We continue to make strong progress and remain ahead of schedule on signatures,” initiative spokesperson Nathan Click told on Wednesday.

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