08/14/2001 12:00AM

Davis had motives for phone bill


DEL MAR, Calif. - Nearly a year after he vetoed similar legislation, California Gov. Gray Davis cited four reasons for signing Assembly Bill 471 last week, legislation that will legalize telephone and Internet betting on horse racing in the state effective Jan. 1.

In a press release issued Monday, Davis concentrated his comments on aspects of the bill that establishes a system to unionize backstretch workers. He also praised language in the bill that calls for housing standards for backstretch workers.

Last year, Davis vetoed similar legislation, saying at the time that he supported labor needs but could not support telephone betting because he did not want to allow for an expansion of gambling. He said he would have signed the labor legislation had it appeared separate from the telephone betting bill.

In Monday's press release, Davis said that his opinion was swayed by an amendment to the Interstate Horseracing Act last December that expanded the definition of an "interstate off-track wager" to include betting via the Internet.

Davis cited a California Attorney General's opinion that stated "AB 471 will not create a new form or expand an existing form of gambling."

He also cited language in this year's legislation that safeguards use of telephone betting accounts by minors, a point that he said was a major concern last year.

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