08/30/2006 12:00AM

Calif. tribes get more slots


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has reached agreements with four Native American tribes in the state to expand their casinos to accommodate as many as 19,500 additional slot machines.

Tribes based near Banning, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and Temecula, all in Southern California, would be allowed to add 3,000 to 5,500 slot machines to the 2,000 that each currently has in operation.

As part of the agreement, the tribes would pay a larger share of profits to the state. The deal requires ratification by the state legislature.

California's Native American tribes do not disclose profits, but the figure is estimated at $6 billion annually, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Racetrack officials have long looked with jealousy at the casino businesses operated by Native American tribes. A 2004 referendum that would have allowed slot machines at racetracks and card clubs was soundly defeated by voters.

Earlier this year, horsemen and racetracks proposed legislation to allow 13,000 gambling machines to be installed at the state's tracks as a way to compete with the tribes, but the legislation stalled without reaching a vote.

Tracks have also sought "mitigating payments" from tribes in exchange for not pursuing slot machine legislation, but no agreements have been reached.