San Manuel Tribe Spending To Defeat Prop 27 Soars Over $100 Million

Written By Steve Friess on October 4, 2022 - Last Updated on November 3, 2022

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians cemented its status as the single biggest spender on either side of this year’s record-breaking California sports betting proposition wars.

The tribe brought its total to $104.7 million by tossing another $25 million into the kitty. It did so in an attempt to defeat Proposition 27, which would legalize online sports betting in California.

It was San Manuel’s second $25 million contribution in a month and fourth overall to No on 27 – Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming. In all, the band has kicked in $103.1 million of that group’s $116.1 million. It’s also given another $1.6 million to Yes on 26, No on 27 – Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming.

The state of Prop 26 and Prop 27

Polls show both California sports betting initiatives are deeply unpopular. This polling comes amid more than $447 million being spent on all campaigns for and against the competing initiatives.

Proposition 26, which would legalize in-person sports betting, has its own detractors. Most notably, that includes a committee funded primarily by California cardrooms.

San Manuel supports Prop 26 but has poured more of its resources into the fight against Prop 27. The reasons why seem clear. San Manuel owns the Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, a luxury property about an hour east of Los Angeles.

Last year, the tribe unveiled a $760 million expansion. It views online gambling as a threat to its brick-and-mortar investments.

Spending slows a bit ahead of Election Day

Fundraising for the campaigns to pass the measures has slowed considerably in the second half of September. Crown Gaming, parent firm of DraftKings, tossed another $101,700 into the pot in favor of Prop 27. That is a pittance considering the company had already spent more than $34.3 million in what looks like a losing effort.

Operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel have spent a collective $169.3 million to push Prop 27. This would effectively give them a monopoly over online gambling in the nation’s most populous state.

All the serious new money looks likely to hammer the coffin shut on Props 26 and 27.  Elevation Entertainment Group, a La Jolla-based construction firm, put in a $500,000 donation to defeat Prop 26. The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians put in a bit more than $2 million for the Yes on 26, No on 27 campaign.

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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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