Rebuttal To Cardrooms Sparks First Tribal Commercial On Sports Betting Prop 26

Written By Matthew Kredell on October 7, 2022 - Last Updated on November 2, 2022

Backers of Prop 26 have yet to put out a “Yes on 26” commercial. But now they have one rejecting a commercial from the “No on 26” campaign.

Deflecting an attack from cardrooms finally got tribes backing Prop 26 to spend advertising money on their own California sports betting ballot measure.

The campaign released a commercial spotlighting that advertising opposing Prop 26 comes from California cardrooms. But the commercial still doesn’t ask voters to vote yes on Prop 26.

The Yes on 26 campaign has punted on its own initiative to focus on defeating online sports betting Prop 27, a competing initiative on next month’s ballot. That doesn’t mean the tribes behind Prop 26 are willing to take flak from their California gambling competition.

Pechanga Band of Indians, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation provide major funding for the tribal campaign.

Tribes go on offensive against CA cardrooms

The tribal advertisement starts with the end of the No on 26 commercial featuring a mom talking about her fear of sports betting impacting her kids. A red line circles the cardrooms that paid for the ad.

Here’s the transcript:

“Who’s behind these deceptive ads attacking California Indian tribes? It’s the cardroom casino operators. They run Nevada-style gambling at their more than 60 casinos across California. They’ve been fined tens of millions for violations such as money laundering, racketeering, drug trafficking and misleading regulators. Now cardroom casinos are contributing millions to politicians to buy their support. It’s time to finally crack down on cardrooms’ unlawful gambling and criminal activities. Learn more at”

Becky Warren, spokesperson for the No on 26 campaign, responded to the ad:

“This tactic is a desperate attack to distract from a failing and flawed measure which nearly two out of three California voters are opposed to. It’s clear that the five wealthy tribes behind Prop 26 want to eliminate their competition and seek a massive expansion of gambling.”

Fact-checking the no on ‘No on 26’ commercial

Here’s a look at how some of the claims made in the advertisement hold up.

Claim: Cardrooms run Nevada-style gambling.

Verdict: False. The California State Lottery Act of 1984 prohibits Nevada-style casinos. Cardrooms may only offer card games not bet against the house. Tribal casinos with their slot machines, house-banked games and resort hotels are much more like Nevada-style gambling.

Claim: Cardrooms have been fined tens of millions of dollars.

Verdict: True. There’s no denying that some California cardrooms have faced punishment in recent years. A press release from the tribal campaign cited that four cardroom contributors to the No on 26 campaign — Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Bicycle Casino, Artichoke Joe’s Casino, Casino M8trix — have been fined a combined $21.2 million.

“Cardroom casino operators have a deplorable track record of criminal behavior, offering unlawful gambling, money laundering, fraud and misleading regulators,” Anthony Roberts, Chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, said in the press release. “And now they are spending millions of dollars attacking California’s Indian tribes. It’s time the public learn the facts about these shady operators.”

Claim: Cardrooms are contributing millions to politicians to buy their support.

Verdict: Misleading. This seems to refer to the No on 26 campaign contributing $2.5 million to the California Republican Party after it opposed Prop 26. A campaign spokesman says it refers more broadly to cardroom contributions to politicians over the years. But California tribes are among the largest political contributors in the state. And legislative leaders for each party spoke of their support of the tribes in opposing Prop 27.

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