California Tribal Leader: Here’s Why We Don’t Like Prop 27 or Prop 26

There are roughly 110 federally recognized tribes in California.

Only 58 have publicly endorsed Prop 26. And only three have publicly endorsed Prop 27.

That means 61 tribes are either on one side of the CA sports betting debate or the other. But that leaves 49 tribes that we haven’t heard from. Do they support one or the other? Or do they support both? Or neither?

One tribal leader gave California Casinos the answer for his tribe in an interview this week.

Lloyd Mathiesen, Tribal Chairman of the Chicken Ranch Tribe of Me-Wuk Indians, told California Casinos his tribe opposes Prop 27 because it believes there are no significant tribal benefits. It also thinks the initiative, which would legalize online sports betting through private companies partnered with tribes, is “not making any money for the people of California either.”

However, Mathiesen said the Chicken Ranch Tribe — which is listed as one of 58 California tribes in favor of Prop 26 — also isn’t happy with Prop 26, which would legalize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and the state’s four horse racetracks.

“We didn’t like the fact that (Prop 26) had racetracks,” Mathiesen said. “It has nothing in there for California tribes that are smaller.”

Mathiesen later added that the absence of anything specifically benefitting smaller tribes “didn’t sit well with us.”

The Chicken Ranch Tribe mostly resides in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Tuolumne County. It owns Chicken Ranch Casino, which has 600 slot machines, nine table games, a 900-seat bingo hall, and 30,000 square feet of gaming space.

With more than 350 slot machines, the Chicken Ranch Tribe is technically considered a gaming tribe.

But its casino is much smaller than those of other gaming tribes. Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, for instance, owned by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, features more than 7,000 slot machines.

ONLINE GAMING: The Chicken Ranch Tribe Is Launching a Sports Betting Bingo App. Here’s How It’s Legal.

Would Prop 26 Not Help Smaller Tribes?

Prop 26 does not include any specific language about sports betting tax revenue helping smaller tribes or tribes that don’t offer spots betting. However, backers of Prop 26 claim the sports betting tax revenue will increase the money non-gaming and limited-gaming tribes get from the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.

Such tribes currently receive $1.1 million annually from the RSTF.

Prop 27 specifically stipulates that 15% of sports betting tax revenue will go toward tribes that don’t offer sports betting.

Most estimates for California online sports betting revenue hover around $2.8-$3 billion. A 10% tax on $2.8 billion would lead to $280 in tax revenue, and 15% of that is $42 million. However, that doesn’t take into account regulatory costs.

So, conservatively, Prop 27 would lead to $30-$40 million for tribes not participating in sports betting.

IF PROP 26 PASSES … These CA Tribes Have Sports Partnerships That Could Play a Role in Retail Sportsbook Launches

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.