California Native Americans Face Off Against Online Gambling Giants

Native American tribes are fighting online sports betting companies in a winner-take-all fight for gaming rights this November

This November, California voters will choose between two propositions that could bring sports betting to California: prob 26, a measure supported by over 50 Native American tribes, and prop 27, backed by big money businesses like DraftKings and FanDuel.

The competing ideas differ in how, exactly, sports gambling should come to the Golden State. Supporters of prop 26 hope to ensure that all sports bets must be made in-person—and limited to tribal casinos and horse racing tracks. The massive gambling companies driving prop 27, meanwhile, are aiming to legalize the action online. For both parties, potentially huge profits are at stake, which might explain why they’ve funneled millions into supporting props 26 and 27, respectively.

While most proposals on the November ballot have been lucky to raise about $10 million each, props 26 and 27 have managed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, according to KTLA. In fact, more than $500 million in campaign contributions have been pumped into the coffers on both sides.

Though hundreds of millions of dollars have been injected into these campaigns, the Native American tribes supporting prop 26 are still at a predictable disadvantage despite the $151,478,519 raised in total contributions—compared to the $369,931,682 prop 27 advocates have put their hands on.

Across California, billboards in favor of prop 27 advertise a “permanent solution to homelessness” in the state. The proposition’s backers also say they’ll help with the mental health crisis, promising on their website that “eighty-five percent of all tax revenue goes to fund solutions to homelessness, mental health and addiction.”

Those opposed to prop 27 argue that the big companies have drafted their proposition solely to legalize sports gambling on their terms, stating on their website, “Out-of-state corporations have written a ballot measure to legalize online sports betting in California — but only on their terms. 90% of sports betting profits will be shipped out of California. If it passes, the promise of gaming exclusivity between California voters and our Native American Tribes will be broken, threatening the $23.2 billion in economic activity and 181,532 California jobs Tribal gaming provides. This measure is a direct attack on tribal sovereignty.”

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