10/07/2004 12:00AM

Slots group pulls its ads

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Supporters of a referendum that could legalize slots at racetracks in California have suspended their advertising campaign in the face of widespread opposition by voters, the supporters said late Wednesday.

The referendum, which will still be on the Nov. 2 ballot, is supported by about 30 percent of California voters, the group behind the referendum said, and is being opposed by American Indian tribes and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The supporters, which include racetracks and card rooms, had spent about $9 million on the advertising campaign and an additional $18 million to get the referendum on the ballot.

Greg Larson, a spokesman for the referendum effort, called the suspension of the ad campaign a "strategic decision" that will allow the group to renew its push for slots at tracks next year.

The group has also filed a lawsuit claiming that four agreements Schwarzenegger signed with American Indian casinos this year violated the California Constitution. Also on Wednesday, the state treasurer in California said the state would delay its plans to underwrite $1 billion in bonds based on the agreements until the lawsuit is resolved.