Tribes, Casinos Invest Additional $15 Million In CA Sports Betting Battle

Written By Steve Friess on August 25, 2022 - Last Updated on September 12, 2022
CA sports betting campaign gets $15 million

The staggering coffers of campaigns for and against Propositions 26 and 27 grew by more than $15 million this week. This pushes the combined total past $370 million in what are already the most expensive ballot referendums in American history.

Where’s the campaign money coming from?

The Pechanga Band of Indians of Temecula gave another $10 million and the Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation of Brooks put in another $5 million to Yes on 26, No on 27 – Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming. This is according to new filings with the Elections division of the California Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in Highland spent a combined $41,960 for No on 27 – Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming.  And the Sahara Dunes Casino in Lake Elsinore pitched in $300,000 to No on 26 – Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies.

Prior to these dueling measures, the most expensive ballot referendum in U.S. history was 2020’s successful Prop 22. The app-based ride-share and food delivery industry persuaded voters to consider their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees.” In all, both sides spent $224.25 million, which now seems like a bargain by comparison.

The $10 million from the Pechanga tribe, which operates a Southern California casino, pushes the tribe’s total spending to $27.3 million. This is second only to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria of Sonoma County’s $31.9 million. The Yoche Dehe, who own the Northern California casino Cache Creek, remain the third-biggest donor. Their total sits at $22.1 million after this additional $5 million spend.

More on California Prop 26 and Prop 27

Prop 26 would legalize in-person California sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racetracks. 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. Most of California’s tribes support Prop 26 and oppose Prop 27.

Seven casino companies, including MGM Resorts, Penn National, FanDuel and DraftKings, are spending $150 million in efforts to pass Prop 27. Those companies have not spent any money to defeat Prop 26, which they believe can co-exist with their plan.

Opposing Prop 26, however, are licensed California cardrooms that are not included as possible sites for taking sports bets.

PlayCA is keeping a regularly updated running tab of all spending for and against Prop 26 and Prop 27. This includes full tables outlining where all contributors are investing their money ahead of Election Day.

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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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