California’s Tejon Indian Tribe Publicly Backs Prop 26, Opposes Prop 27

Another California tribe has publicly backed Prop 26, which would allow California sports betting exclusively in-person at Indian casinos and the state’s four horse racetracks.

The Tejon Indian Tribe, the only federally recognized tribe in Kern County, told KBAK Bakersfield Thursday that they support Prop 26. They are also against Prop 27, the mobile sportsbooks-backed initiative that would allow online sports betting in CA.

“It’s another stream of revenue on top of whatever table games, slot revenue, entertainment that you’re offering at your facility,” Octavio Escobedo III, Chairman for the Tejon Tribe, told KBAK. “Now you can offer sportsbooks in person.”

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Why Does the Tejon Tribe Want Prop 26 to Pass?

It’s not surprising the Tejon Tribe wants Prop 26 to pass. They have partnered with Hard Rock International and are planning a $600 million resort and casino. There will be 13 restaurants and bars, a spa, a conference center, and a concert venue. It will be called Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon, and it will be located 25 miles south of Bakersfield.

If Prop 26 passes (and Prop 27 doesn’t), the Tejon Tribe stands to make good money by adding a sportsbook to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon. The project is awaiting legislative approval before it can begin. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has already signed a tribal-state gaming compact for the project.

“You can clearly see at the end of these Yes on 27 commercials that they’re sponsored by BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn National,” Escobebo told KBAK. “Nowhere does it say it’s paid for by tribes because it’s not paid for by tribes. It’s paid for by these out-of-state gambling corporations.”

The Tejon Tribe consists of just over 1,200 members, most of whom live in the Bakersfield area.

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Which CA Tribes Support Prop 26 and Prop 27?

According to the Yes on Prop 26 website, 26 CA tribes had already endorsed the initiative before the Tejon Tribe’s announcement. So, if that number was accurate, 27 California tribes have now publicly backed Prop 26. The site does note, however, that it only has a partial list of supporters posted. So, in all likelihood, the number of tribes to openly support Prop 26 is higher than 27.

Three California tribes (all non-gaming tribes) have publicly endorsed Prop 27: Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe. They say they have done so in part because Prop 27 will assign 15% of CA sports betting state tax revenue to non-gaming tribes — or tribes who don’t own casinos.

“Prop. 27 will provide us with economic opportunity to fortify our Tribe’s future for generations and protect Tribal sovereignty,” said Leo Sisco, Chairman of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe, in a press release. “And it is the only measure that will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars each year to help solve homelessness and address mental health in California.”

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About the Author

Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain started as News Editor and Content Manager at California Casinos in 2022. Before that, he spent six years as a sports reporter and then deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register, during which time he won nine statewide journalism awards, including the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. As deputy sports editor, Matthew oversaw the Register's recruiting coverage while also innovating the outlet's high school sports coverage. Matthew graduated from San Diego State and grew up in California, but he's somehow a Boston Celtics fan. Long story.