The campaign coffers for committees battling over two sports betting questions on California’s ballot have vaulted past $400 million. They show little signs of slowing down with Election Day less than two months away.
With another $46.9 million reported to the California Secretary of State since Sept. 1, the total is now at $419.7 million. This is, by a wide margin, the most spending ever on referendums anywhere in the United States.
All of that money is going to either pass or defeat Proposition 26 and Proposition 27. Voters will decide on the CA sports betting propositions on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.
Prop 26 would legalize in-person California sports betting at tribal casinos and select horse racing venues. Prop 27 would legalize online sports betting and creates barriers to keep all but the nation’s largest and most ubiquitous casino brands from participating.
Check out the official PlayCA voter’s guide for more information.
Who is spending new money on CA sports betting propositions?
A few notable contributions in the most recent wave of filings include:
- DraftKings and FanDuel unite: The rivals combined for an additional $19.2 million to support passage of Prop 27. Until this, the committee pushing that measure had held steady since earlier in the year at $150 million, which included $25 million contributions from FBG Enterprises (Fanatics), BetMGM, Fanduel and DraftKings, and $12.5 million from WSI US (WynnBet) and Bally’s Interactive.
- CA GOP receives cash from both anti- campaigns: No on 27 gave the California Republican Party $500,000 and No on 26 gave the party $2.5 million. Intriguingly, the Yes on 27 campaign gave $50,000 to the state GOP in June. The move follows an announcement in August that the party opposes both questions. On Prop 27, party spokeswoman Jessica Millan Patterson wrote in a press release that it “breaks the promise made to California’s Native American tribes to grant them the sovereign right to operate gaming in California in order to improve the lives of their communities across the state. We stand with California tribes and oppose Prop 27.” (The Democratic Party also opposes Prop 27 but is neutral on Prop 26.)
- San Manuel Band ups the ante: Already the biggest spenders of any entity involved in either Proposition, the owners of the Yaamava Resort & Casino near Los Angeles put another $25 million into the No on 27 campaign. They’ve now invested $79.8 million between donations to No on 27 and the Yes on 26/No on 27 committee.
- Another tribe heard from: The Saboba Band of Lusieno Indians put $2.5 million into the Yes on 26/No on 27 campaign on Sept. 7. The tribe, which operates the Soboba Casino Resort in San Jacinto, had not previously been involved. That sum puts them among the top donors.
What national initiative record has been broken?
Before Props 26 and 27, the most expensive ballot referendum in U.S. history was 2020’s successful Prop 22. The ride-share and food delivery industry persuaded voters to consider drivers “independent contractors,” not “employees.”
In all, both sides spent $224.25 million on those campaigns. This now seems like a bargain by comparison.