A lot of California tribes don’t want Prop 27 to pass this November. But one California tribe really, really doesn’t want it to pass.
As of Oct. 3, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians had donated $103,279,308 to defeat Prop 27, which would legalize online sports betting in California. The total money spent for and against Prop 26 and Prop 27 so far is just over $439.8 million.
That means the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is responsible for 23.5% of all campaign funding in what has become by far the most expensive ballot battle in California history.
The tribe owns Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, California’s largest casino. It has unloaded 48 financial contributions (47 to No on 27 and one to Yes on 26), ranging from as high as its four $25 million donations to as low as $4.55. Its fourth $25 million donation (all to No on 27) came on Sept. 26. Its lone contribution to Yes on 26, $150,000, came way back on Sept. 21, 2021.
To put the San Manuel Band’s donations in perspective …
- They total 61% of the $169.2 million spent on Yes on 27
- They total 243% of the $42.5 million spent on No on 26
- They total 92.4% of the $111.8 million spent on Yes on 26
Does the San Manuel Band Endorse Prop 26?
The San Manuel Band has endorsed the measure that would legalize in-person sports betting at California Indian casinos and licensed horse racetracks — other than its six-figure donation 13 months ago.
Meanwhile, the tribe has actively tried to get a tribal-led online sports betting measure on the 2024 ballot. That has been a joint effort with the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians (which owns Harrah’s Resort Southern California) and the Wilton Rancheria (which owns Sky River Casino). Both of those tribes have endorsed Prop 26.
The logical conclusion from all this?
Sure, the San Manuel Band would be happy to open a retail sportsbook at Yaamava’ if Prop 26 passes. But the tribe realizes the real money is in online sports betting. There’s a reason California online sports betting revenue estimates are near $3 billion, while in-person sports betting estimates top out in the mid-hundreds of millions.
The San Manuel Band clearly wants California tribes to have as much control over the massive sea of online sports betting money as possible when it inevitably becomes legal.
So, where is the effort to get tribal-led online sports betting on the 2024 ballot?
As of Oct. 3, the measure — which also includes legalizing in-person betting on tribal lands — still had a lot more verified signatures to get. A full count from the California Secretary of State’s office found the proposed ballot initiative had 83.44% verified signatures. It needs a minimum of 95% to qualify for the 2024 ballot.