Just How Much Can LA Times Affect California Sports Betting Election?

California’s most influential newspaper shared its opinion this month on Prop 26 and Prop 27 – a pair of initiatives that have sports bettors’ attention in California and across the country.

The Los Angeles Times’ verdict on Prop 26 and Prop 27? A resounding “no.”

And the paper, which has a daily readership of 1.4 million, was anything but subtle about its opinion. It called the initiatives “a foolish scheme” in one article and “poisonous” in another. It’s published letters to the editor from readers who feel the same way, and published the results of a straw poll suggesting Prop 27 is losing by 20 points.

But does the LA Times’ opinion really matter?

Probably not, only because if polling data is to be believed, both initiatives already appear to be dead in the water — or dead on the horse racetrack in this case.

A quick refresher: Prop 26 would allow for in-person sports betting at Indian casinos and at four licensed horse racetracks: Santa Anita Park, Del Mar Racetrack, Los Alamitos Race Course, and Golden Gate Fields.

Prop 27 would allow online and app-based sports betting on platforms partnered with both tribes in California. Not surprisingly, Prop 27 has the financial backing of many big-name sports-betting platforms, with DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM chief among them.

The LA Times argues the potential tax proceeds of the new industry if Prop 27 passes estimated at nearly a half-billion dollars each year wouldn’t nearly offset the cost to public health. It refers to data from some of the other 30 states to legalize sports betting since the 2018 US Supreme Court decision, which shows more people are seeking help for gambling addiction. The stats also suggest more teens are gambling.

MORE BAD NEWS: Gambling Expert: ‘We Don’t Think Prop 26 or 27 Passes’ in California

How Much Can the LA Times Opinion Sway Voters?

Sara Fisher, a longtime media reporter for Axios in Washington D.C., said media opinion on particular statewide issues can move the needle for ballot questions by up to 10 points. The influence depends on the issue, of course, and size of the outlet.

Outlets in larger states like California tend to have the smallest impact on the general public due to the state’s huge population and sheer number of competing media outlets.

“In this case, the LA Times has a reputation for leaning a little to the left and erring on the side of protecting people,” Fisher told California Casinos. “But viewers are getting so much information thrown at them from the incessant campaign ads. I think people are confused and looking for clarity, and that’s where the paper can really help.”

Fisher said she doesn’t expect the paper’s opinion to significantly move the needle. Rather, she believes the Times’ stance will help confirm the beliefs of over 54% of likely California voters already opposed to Prop 27, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll.

UCLA’s Karen Orren, a distinguished professor in the university’s political science department, contended that a lack of messaging consistency in Prop 26 and Prop 27 ads leaves room for the Times’ opinion to resonate with voters.

Prop 26 ads have focused on Prop 27 being funded by out-of-state companies trying to damage Indian sovereignty. Prop 27 ads have focused on how its revenue tax funds would go toward homelessness programs and “disadvantaged” tribes. Last week, the Prop 27 campaign decided to pull its TV ads and focus on direct communication strategies.

Los Angeles voters generally drive the outcome of California ballot initiatives. But Orren warned other outlets across the state could have a similar impact in their respective regions.

“You have plenty of other papers in the Bay Area and further north that could try and sway voters in the other direction, though I don’t believe they will for these two propositions,” she said. “Even here in Los Angeles, we have La Opinion, the Daily News, (Orange County) Register, and Press-Telegram. And that’s just newspapers.”

Mega television outlets, like KTLA, KTTV and KNBC, as well as Spanish-speaking media Univision and Telemundo, also have a “meaningful role” in reaching potential voters, Orren said.

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About the Author
Just How Much Can LA Times Affect California Sports Betting Election? 1

Chris Kudialis

Chris Kudialis has an extensive sports and political reporting background that includes in-person coverage of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, as well as the U.S. Presidential Election, FIFA World Cup, FIBA Basketball World Cup, Ryder Cup, golf’s U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the British Open. He’s written for major media outlets across the United States and abroad, and speaks both Spanish and Portuguese fluently. He majored in Spanish at the University of Michigan and recently earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida.