Prop 26, Prop 27 Campaign Spending Tops $390 Million After 14 August Contributions

With California’s Nov. 8 general election on the horizon, voters are seeing a barrage of ads centered on the two measures, Prop 26 and Prop 27, that would legalize sports betting in the state.

Both props have the backing of stakeholders with deep pockets.

Prop 26, a measure allowing sports betting at California tribal casinos and licensed horse racetracks, has sponsorship from the largest and most prosperous Native American tribes. Established online sports betting companies are the financial supporters of Prop 27, which would allow online sports betting in California.

Contribution activity slowed down a bit in August, with a $25 million donation on Aug. 31 swelling the monthly total to just north of $41 million. As of Sept. 2, $390 million had been spent on Prop 26 and Prop 27, further making it the most expensive ballot battle in California history.

Here’s a quick look at the contribution activity from last month. All but one contributions to support or oppose Prop 26 and Prop 27 in August came from in-state organizations.

REPORT: Prop 27 Would Generate $2.8 Billion in Annual California Sports Betting Revenue

August 2022 Donations to Prop 26 and Prop 27 Campaigns

Contribution DateAmountBallot MeasureContributor Name
8/31/2022$25,000,000Opposition to Prop 27San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
8/17/2022$10,000,000Support of Prop 26Pechanga Band of Indians
8/18/2022$5,000,000Support of Prop 26Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
8/30/2022$485,000Opposition to Prop 26Blackstone Gaming
8/17/2022$300,000Opposition to Prop 26Sahara Dunes Casino LP
8/30/2022$136,234Support of Prop 26Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
8/31/2022$84,195.72Support of Prop 27Crown Gaming Inc. (DraftKings)
8/16/2022$6,686.94Support of Prop 26Pechanga Band of Indians
8/12/2022$2,811.60Opposition to Prop 27San Manual Band of Mission Indians
8/26/2022$2,537.80Opposition to Prop 27San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
8/29/2022$1,347.42Support of Prop 26Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
8/29/2022$395.83Support of Prop 26Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
8/25/2022$348Opposition to Prop 27San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
8/22/2022$20Opposition to Prop 27San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
Total Spent:$41,019,577.30

Prop 26 Contributions

The largest contribution of August, $25 million, came from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. That tribe owns Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, the largest casino in California and on the West Coast. It is also one of three tribes spearheading an effort to get tribal-led California online sports betting on the 2024 ballot, so it makes sense why it would strongly oppose Prop 27. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has now donated more than $78 million to fund No on 27.

Before August, the Pechanga Band of Indians spent over $15 million on the Yes on 26 campaign. It added about $10 million from its coffers in August. The tribe owns Pechanga Resort Casino, the second-largest casino in California.

The Yocha Dehe Winton Nation also contributed about $15 million before August. Last month, it spent another $5 million to support Prop 26. It owns Cache Creek Casino Resort, the seventh-biggest casino in California. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which owns three casinos in California, added about $1,700 last month to its previous total contribution of $10.25 million.

Supporters of Prop 26 began funding the measure last spring, with the Pechanga Band of Indians leading the way in April 2021. Before August, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria spent $30 million promoting Prop 26. The tribe, which owns Graton Resort & Casino, is still the biggest supporter of the Yes on 26 campaign.

Prop 27 Contributions

DraftKings became the top donor to Prop 27 in August when it chipped in $84,195.72 on Aug. 31. It has now contributed just over $25 million to the campaign. Fellow sportsbook companies FanDuelBetMGMFanatics (FanaticsBet), and PENN Gaming (Barstool Sportsbook) have all donated exactly $25 million apiece.

California card rooms are opposed to Prop 26, and have entirely funded the No on 26 campaign. They compete directly with tribal casinos for customers. They also claim passage of Prop 26 would allow tribal casinos more leniency to sue the card rooms in costly — and what the card rooms deem unnecessary — lawsuits.

Two card rooms contributed to the No on 26 efforts in August. Sahara Dunes Casino LP (Lake Elsinore Casino) contributed $300,000, its first contribution. Blackstone Gaming spent $485,000 in August. Previously, Blackstone Gaming, a third-party provider of proposition player services for card rooms throughout California, including Ocean’s Eleven Casino, Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino, and Hustler Casino, spent $1 million on the No on 26 campaign.

Prop 27 backers began contributing in August 2021 with a $12.5 million influx from Bally Bet. Beyond the five $25 million contributions listed above, WynnBET has also donated $12.5 million.

Three California tribes — two offering limited gaming, one offering full gaming — and nonprofits that fight homelessness have sided with the corporations to support Prop 27. According to state records, none of these groups has contributed money to pro-Prop 27 or anti-Prop 26 efforts.

ROLL CALL: Here Are All the Groups That Support Prop 26 and Prop 27, and Why

About the Author

Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a writer for California Casinos with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, D.C. She's a die-hard women's basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion.