11/21/2003 1:00AM

Move for slots in California


California racetracks, along with the state's card clubs, are preparing to file a ballot initiative for 2004 that would allow slot machines to be installed at racetracks and card clubs.

Paperwork detailing the initiative could be filed with the state attorney general as early as next week, according to a source familiar with the proposal. The initiative could be on the same ballot as the presidential election in November 2004.

Racing officials declined to comment on the proposal.

As a constitutional amendment, the initiative would require one million signatures to reach the ballot.

If the initiative goes forward, it is expected to face massive opposition from California's Native American tribes, which operate casinos throughout the state that include 54,000 slot machines. Most of those casinos are located away from population centers, while racetracks are in populated areas.

The revenue created from slot machines by Native American casinos was widely discussed during the recent gubernatorial recall in California. Former Gov. Gray Davis was criticized for his relationship with Native American tribes. Newly elected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated during his campaign that he expects Native American tribes to pay a larger share of slot machine revenue to the state.