FanDuel, DraftKings Shift California Sports Betting Focus to 2024, Tribes Respond

FanDuel, DraftKings Shift California Sports Betting Focus to 2024, Tribes Respond article feature image

Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images. Pictured: Amy Howe, CEO of FanDuel.

Top brass from the United States' two largest sports betting companies acknowledged the difficulty in coming out on the winning side on California’s upcoming vote on sports betting during a gaming industry gaming conference this week.

“We will live to fight another day,” FanDuel CEO Amy Howe said Tuesday of California’s Prop 27, a measure on the November 8 ballot to legalize statewide online sports betting.

Speaking alongside DraftKings CEO Jason Robins at a Global Gaming Expo panel in Las Vegas, the two addressed a recent poll that shows the ballot prop tracking with only 27% of voters — well shy of the 50% it needs to pass.

Focusing on 2024

Spinning a narrative of potential defeat this fall into hope for the future, Robins chimed in, “More than likely this will pass in 2024.”

That’s the next time commercial gaming companies could bring anything to the ballot, as California only holds municipal elections every two years.

What DraftKings, FanDuel & Co. plan to do differently next go around remains to be seen.

Robins blamed the prop’s expected failure on Native American tribes, which spent over $100 million on what he said were “false and misleading ads” around Prop 27 in the third quarter of 2022 alone.

During the same timeframe, the "Yes on 27" campaign spent $67 million on ads, and early this week, Wall Street Journal reported the campaign was cutting $11 million in ad spending.

The tribes have their own sports betting measure, Prop 26, on the ballot. That’s also not tracking well among voters, according to the same poll.

Tribes Offer Their Perspective

Speaking at a panel just a few hours later tribal gaming leaders blamed operators.

“[Prop] 26 isn’t doing well because of the toxicity that’s been created by the 27 efforts,” said Jacob Meija, Vice President of public and external affairs for the Pechanga Development Corporation.

The panel, comprised by members of three California tribes and moderated by a chair of the National Indian Gaming Association was essentially a rebuttal from tribes.

“I heard that the FanDuel CEO said, ‘We live to fight another day,’ and I want to tell them that if you’re fighting a tribe, you’re losing,” Meija said.

Prop 27 would give tribes a portion of revenue, but at the cost of sharing proceeds with the FanDuels and DraftKings of the world.

Online Sports Betting Becomes Focus for Tribes

Tribes are now focusing on a measure for the 2024 ballot that would legalize online sports betting exclusively under tribal control.

Meija sees the urgency to defeat commercial operators as a catalyst toward tribes legalizing it and owning an online sports betting market.

“It has rallied tribes together,” Meija said. "Before, we were having a hard time bringing tribes to meetings to pitch sports betting."

But Sara Dutschke, chairwoman of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians, didn’t completely close the door for a commercial/tribal online betting market.

“The door is always open for a conversation,” Dutschke said.

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