The San Manuel Tribe was at the forefront of efforts to defeat California’s Proposition 27 this year. The measure would have legalized mobile sports betting and allowed industry giants such as FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM to collect wagers.
Tribe releases video showing gratitude
On Election Day, voters decisively rejected Prop 27, with more than 82% voting “No.”
To thank voters, the San Manuel Tribe released a video expressing gratitude for showing such strong resistance against the measure. As a result of the failed initiative and the failure of Proposition 26, California sports betting stays at bay until at least 2024.
The video was on behalf of the No on 27 Coalition, of which the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians was the primary sponsor. Other major funding came from the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and Pala Casino Spa Resort.
“We want to thank you for supporting our tribal sovereignty and defeating the out-of-state corporations. Tribal gaming has lifted so many of our people from poverty to self-sufficiency. It has also created nearly 200,000 jobs and contributed to communities across our state. With your support, we will continue to make safe, responsible tribal gaming work for all Californians.”
Tribe arguments focused on money leaving state
Supporters of Prop 27 claimed the measure would help tribes, in addition to its stated motives of addressing California’s homelessness and mental health crises. Opponents countered that 90% of sports betting profits would stay with the sportsbooks themselves.
Since these companies operate outside state lines, that money would leave California’s gambling system. That would be a lot of money, since California has the nation’s largest population and is on pace to become the fourth-biggest economy in the world.
The tribes’ messaging against Prop 27 focused on money leaving the state to dissuade voters from passing it.
Voters soundly rejected Prop 26 as well
Of course, Prop 27 wasn’t the only sports betting initiative on the ballot. Proposition 26 was the tribes’ attempt to expand tribal gaming. If passed, it would have allowed sports betting only at their casinos as well as adding roulette and craps table games.
Roughly two-thirds of voters rejected Prop 26, keeping all sports betting illegal in California.
Despite Prop 26’s failure, the tribe must see the results as a success, hence the video. Tribes were able to keep massive corporations from taking a large piece of potentially billions of dollars away from the tribes.
Looking at it that way, $100 million is a small price to pay to maintain the status quo.
Tribes may have won the battle, but war goes on
Despite the failure of both measures, sports betting will remain a hot topic between now and the 2024 election.
DraftKings and FanDuel have already stated their intentions to come back. And tribes will undoubtedly want to strengthen their stronghold on gambling in California.
Both sides will have to adapt and come back with a better strategy if they wish to realize different results. Plenty of models exist, too, with 36 states now offering legal sports betting.