01/12/2004 1:00AM

Cal. takeout raise passes


A bill that would increase the takeout on exotic wagers on Thoroughbred races in California to offset workers' compensation costs paid by trainers is bound for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk after passing the State Assembly on Monday by a vote of 78-0.

The bill, sponsored by Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood), was approved by the State Senate last September, but was delayed until the current legislative session before it reached the Assembly.

The bill will raise the takeout by 0.5 percent, from 20.18 to 20.68 percent, on all wagers other than win, place, and show. It is designed to raise $10 million annually to help pay for workers' compensation premiums that have risen dramatically in recent years.

If Schwarzenegger signs the bill, it would take effect immediately.

"The feeling is there is no reason why he wouldn't sign it," said Ron Charles of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

Racing officials say horsemen could realize savings as quickly as 30 days after its passage.

Raising the takeout has been criticized by some bettors, who will bear the burden of the move. Racing officials in California argue that the state's exotic takeout structure remains lower than that of other circuits.