Betting Big: With $357 Million Raised, California Gambling Propositions Already Break Spending Records

Spending on Prop 26 and 27 have topped 2020’s Prop 22 by more than $130M

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California ballot measure battles are notoriously expensive, and this year’s biggest fight is already obliterating records: Groups backed by online gambling companies and tribal casinos have raised nearly $360 million on a pair of measures that would legalize sports betting in the Golden State.

That’s an astonishing $133 million more than the state’s previously most pricey proposition — when Uber, Lyft and DoorDash forked over more than $200 million two years ago to beat back a state law that would treat their drivers as employees.

Since June 30, the groups facing off to control the potential bonanza of a California sports gambling empire raised an average $16.5 million per week, more than has been collected so far for three of the state’s seven ballot measures the entire campaign.

California voters are the target of all that money churning through the Yes and No on Prop 26 and 27 campaigns to pay for billboards popping up across the state and endless ads bombarding us during just about every commercial break for Wheel of Fortune. The dueling campaigns had spent at least $45 million on TV and cable production costs as of July 1, with lots more spending anticipated in the coming weeks.

“You aren’t going to be able to watch evening news, a football game or a YouTube video without seeing a message on these initiatives,” said Thad Kousser, professor of political science at UC San Diego, and co-director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research.

Overall, more than $450 million has been amassed, just in this year, by the handful of committees formed to support and oppose the seven measures that will appear on Californians’ ballots when they are mailed out in October.

But it’s not just gambling interests that are raising eyebrows with their spending. Campaign finance reports linked to supporters of Prop 1, which would amend the state constitution to solidify Californians’ rights to abortion and contraception, show over $170,000 spent on Super Bowl-weekend related activities. That is nearly half the money the campaign has raised so far this year. The expenditures – months before the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade turned abortion into a pivotal national issue – show up on behalf of top Senate Democrat Toni Atkins’ ballot committee. It reported over $18,000 spent on Super Bowl-related concessions, another $14,850 on a concert at Arena and $88,429.50 on tickets to the game in L.A.

The vast majority of money raised across all ballot initiatives, more than $357 million, has been received by the committees supporting and opposing the two controversial gambling propositions.

Simply put, Proposition 27 would legalize online sports betting in the state. Proposition 26 would allow sports betting, but only in-person at tribal casinos and racetracks, expanding the types of betting at those establishments.

Republican and Democratic leaders in Sacramento have recently come out in opposition to Proposition 27, despite the hundreds of millions in projected state revenue.

Five companies, most of which specialize in online gambling, have each shelled out $25 million donations to support Prop 27, including DraftKings, Fanduel Sportsbook, BetMGM, Penn Interactive Ventures, and FBG Enterprises. Two additional companies, WSI US LLC and Bally’s Interactive LLC, each donated $12.5 million, bringing the total raised in support of Prop 27 to $150 million.

A coalition of tribes and casinos have donated over $100 million to one of the committees supporting Prop 26 and opposing Prop 27. The biggest funders include the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, who have donated $30 million, and the Pechanga Band of Indians, who have chipped in more than $25 million.

Click here to read the full article at the Mercury News



  2. Why stop with voting NO on just 26 and 27? Be safe. Vote NO on ALL of the propositions.

  3. JLSeagull….not nice to step on my opinion. but YOU are right.

    I laugh at the Res. tribes with casinos. They have MORE than enough to donate to those who do not have gaming income.

    I have a better solution.

    Now that the Res casinos have been established and they have Hundreds of Millions in the bank, let’s open the State to have at least 1 Non-Res. casino in each County that wants it.

    That means those with legal card clubs can convert if they want.

    After all competition is the is the heart of a good Capitalist System.

    Vote NO on all of them and then let the great I am that I am sort them out.

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