Tracks, Clubs move to get slot OK

Dec 2, 2003 4:16 AM

There aren’t many things that the owners of Hollywood Park and Santa Anita in Southern California agree upon. But, the issue of Indian casinos monopolizing the use of slot machines has brought them together.

Hollywood Park, owned by Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) and Santa Anita, owned by Magna Entertainment Corporation (MECA), as well as three other tracks and a dozen card clubs, have joined in an effort to force a referendum on the slots subject.

Actually the proposal would force the state’s 54 Indian casinos to turn over to the state 25% of their net revenues by amending their existing gaming compacts. Failure to negotiate new compacts would open the door to the tracks and card clubs to install and operate slot machines.

The proposal, called the "Gaming Revenue Acts of 2004," was filed with the attorney general on Nov. 26. The procedure calls for the attorney general to review the proposal and make a decision on its validity by mid-January. If he sanctions the proposal, then the proponents will have 100 days to gather the signatures of 518,105 registered voters. At the polls, a simple majority would be required for passage.

If the proposal finally became law, the card clubs and racetracks that go forward with the slot machines would pay 33% of their slot revenues to the cities and counties involved. Most of the revenues would be applied to public schools, police and fire activities.

Although Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has indicated an interest in addressing the issue of Indian gaming, he has said that he would not favor expanding the state’s gaming to tracks and card clubs.