04/20/2007 11:00PM

Bill would send casino money to tracks


Legislation that would redirect part of the profits from Native American casinos to horse racing purses will be introduced in the California legislature in the near future, according to a statement released by the bill's sponsor, Dean Florez of Shafter.

The bill is designed to aid racetracks without allowing them to install slot machines. Racetracks last sought slot machines through a 2004 referendum, which was roundly defeated by state voters.

In addition to mandating a payment from Native American tribes, the bill will allow tracks to retain their license fees - estimated at $40 million annually - and redirect them toward purses, breeders' awards, marketing programs, and a health and welfare program for jockeys.

The bill's introduction comes in a year when five Native American tribes in California have asked for a significant expansion of slot machines. The tribes' agreements with the state are being debated by the Assembly.

California racing officials have said repeatedly in recent years that they need additional sources of revenue for purses to compete with tracks from other states that offer higher purses subsidized by slot machine revenue.