California tribes and private sports betting companies are at war over Prop 26 and Prop 27. But one huge tribe and the country’s leading sportsbook brand are actually teaming up in one area. Sort of.
*Cue the gasps*
Yes, FanDuel — which owns the largest share of the US sports betting market — and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians — which owns the largest casino in California and has donated more than $78 million to defeat Prop 27 — are both tied to the inaugural Horse Racing Women’s Summit at Santa Anita Park from Sept. 28-30.
The event’s keynote speaker is FanDuel CEO Amy Howe.
The San Manuel Band is a longtime sponsor and marketing partner of Santa Anita Park, arguably California’s most iconic horse racetrack, via its casino, Yaamava’ Resort & Casino. In fact, one of the racetrack’s biggest races is called the Santa Anita Handicap presented by Yaamava’ Resort & Casino.
FanDuel, which had owned top horse betting app TVG since 2009 and hopes to launch FanDuel California in the Golden State, announced in late August that it was rebranding TVG Horse Racing as FanDuel TV. FanDuel TV is one of two presenting sponsors of the Horse Racing Women’s Summit.
And, thus, that’s how you have FanDuel and the San Manuel Band technically teaming up at a horse racing event.
How Much Have FanDuel and the San Manuel Band Donated?
Fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars, the marketing battle between Prop 26 and Prop 27 became a fierce war of words over the summer and into this fall. As of Sept. 26, the San Manuel Band had donated approximately $78.2 million to defeat the California online sports betting measure. FanDuel’s total contribution to Yes on 27 was just over $35 million.
Together, that’s more than $113.2 million spent.
Prop 26 supporters released a barrage of hard-hitting TV, YouTube, and social media ads featuring dramatic pleas from tribal leaders, social service providers, and mothers of teens worried about the effect of gambling on children.
Prop 27, meanwhile, produced ads highlighting how its proposed revenue tax plans would fund homelessness programs and non-gaming tribes better than Prop 26 ever could.
The result? Well … things don’t look great for either sports betting measure.
Last week, the Public Policy Institute of California released a poll that found 54% of likely California voters planned to vote no on Prop 27. Soon after, the Prop 27 campaign pulled its TV ads and will now shift tactics to focus on direct communication.
As for Prop 26, Polymarket, a crypto prediction market, released markets last week on Prop 26 and Prop 27’s chances. As of the evening of Sept. 26, with market prices translated to percentages, 71% believe Prop 26 will fail and 80% believe Prop 27 will fail.
Prop 26 would only allow sports betting in-person at Indian casinos and the state’s licensed horse racetracks. Prop. 27 would permit online sports betting. It has the support of established players in the mobile betting space, most notably FanDuel, the biggest donor to the Prop 27 campaign so far. Other major sports betting companies that support Prop 27 include BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, and PENN Gaming.
What Happens If Prop 26 or Prop 27 Passes?
If Prop 27 passes, sportsbooks like FanDuel would have to obtain a state license and partner with a tribe to offer online sports betting to Californians. The San Manuel Band would be an ideal partner as Yaamava’ has partnerships with several pro teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Anaheim Ducks, the LA Kings, and the LA Galaxy.
If Prop 26 passes and Prop 27 fails, Yaamava’ will have the option of opening its own sportsbook or partnering with an existing sportsbook brand.
If neither measure passes, both sides will have to head back to the drawing board after the Nov. 8 election. The push to bring sports betting to California will not end. Given the amount of money to be made, could tribes and the private sports betting companies team up on one measure in 2024?
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