Another $9M Tossed Into Record California Sports Betting Pot

Written By Steve Friess on October 26, 2022 - Last Updated on October 31, 2022

Both of California’s sports betting propositions appear headed for resounding defeats next month. The committees working to bury them, however, continue to raise and spend sizable sums of money.

Proposition 27 would legalize online sports betting in California. Proposition 26 would legalize in-person sports betting at California tribal casinos and a handful of racetracks. The four committees involved in the battle have combined to raise an unprecedented $456.6 million.

A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found Prop 27 had just 27 percent support. Prop 26 did slightly better with 31 percent support. If those numbers hold up, the outcome will be humiliating for the sides that have spent fortunes to promote them.

Where have recent contributions come from?

Fundraising has slowed considerably since summer blitzes from operators (supporting Prop 27), tribes (opposing Prop 27 and supporting Prop 26) and California cardrooms (opposing Prop 26).

About $9 million in new money was reported in October. Some contributions are especially notable:

  • Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians: With a $5 million donation on Oct. 7, the Pechanga surpassed the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria as the largest contributor to the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming, also known as Yes on 26/No on 27. They topped off their $32.5 million total with a pair of donations in mid-October that added up to another $23,800.
  • The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians: The owners of the Chumash Casino Resort near Santa Barbara put in $1.06 million. This brings their total for the Yes on 26/No on 27 cause to $6.8 million.
  • Yoche Dehe Winton Nation: Owners of the Cache Creek Casino Resort near Sacramento gave $142,634 on Oct. 12, and $2.5 million on Oct. 21, to Yes on 26/No on 27. At $24.9 million, they’re the third-biggest donor to that committee.
  • Barona Band of Mission Indians: The tribe, which has a resort near San Diego, contributed $82,524 to the Yes on 26/No on 27 group.
  • Pala Band of Mission Indians: Owners of the Pala Casino Spa Resort between Los Angeles and San Diego put $43,000 into the No on 27 coffers on Oct. 19, bringing their total to $3.04 million.
  • DraftKings: One of the drivers of Prop 27 reported putting $101,700 into the Yes on 27 fund. Perhaps owing to the reality that the proposition is likely to lose, the committee stopped raising money after that influx. DraftKings CEO Amy Howe seemed resigned to the likely loss during an appearance at G2E in Las Vegas. DraftKings spent $34 million on the effort.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over”

Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming, says the money is still coming in and being spent because battle isn’t over yet. She’s acknowledged that Prop 26, which she supports, will lose, but her group still needs to ensure Prop 27 goes down, too.

“The recent contributions are previous commitments from tribes to fund campaign activities,” she explains. “Although we’ve scaled back our No on 27 voter education, we’re not completely dark. We need to be certain Prop 27 fails.”

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Steve Friess

Steve Friess is the national gambling industry correspondent for PlayCA. He is also a contributing writer for Newsweek. A Long Island native who earned a journalism degree at Northwestern University, Friess worked at newspapers in Rockford, Ill., Las Vegas, and South Florida before launching a freelance career in Beijing, China, where he served as chief China correspondent for USA Today. After his return to the U.S. in 2003, he settled in Las Vegas, where he covered the gambling industry and the American Southwest regularly for The New York Times, Playboy, The New Republic, Time, Portfolio, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, New York magazine, and many others. During that time, he created and co-hosted two successful and groundbreaking podcasts, the celebrity-interview show The Strip and the animal affairs program The Petcast. In 2011-12, Friess was a Knight-Wallace Fellow for at the University of Michigan. That was followed by a stint as a senior writer covering the intersection of technology and politics at Politico in Washington, D.C., In 2013, he returned permanently to Ann Arbor, where he now lives with his husband, son, daughter and three Pomeranians. He tweets at @SteveFriess and can be reached at [email protected].

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