Foes of Calif. Gambling Deals Turn in Signatures

Opponents of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's deals with four Indian casino tribes -- which would substantially increase the number of slot machines in the state -- began turning in signatures they hope will allow voters a chance in February to challenge the compacts.

The agreements would allow the four casinos to operate an additional 17,000 slot machines, bringing their total to 25,000.

Supporters of the compacts say the deals would mean millions of dollars to the state annually through 2030 and would create hundreds of new jobs.

The opposition -- a coalition of labor interests, other casino tribes and Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows racetracks -- says it has collected nearly 700,000 signatures.

They would need 433,971 valid signatures to qualify. Voters across the state would then be asked to reject each of the four deals for the Morongo, Pechanga, Aqua Caliente and Sycuan tribes. As of one month ago, opponents had raised nearly $2.5 million for the campaign.

Those opposed to the four gambling deals say the pacts unfairly favor wealthy tribes and will do further harm to organized labor and the horse racing industry in the state.

Opponents urged voters to sign petitions at Cathedral Square along the K Street Mall in Sacramento Oct. 5 before delivering 40 boxes of signed petitions to the Sacramento County Registrar’s office. Petitions were also delivered to other county registrars around the state.

“Nearly 700,000 Californians up and down this state have signed petitions to stop the unfair gambling deals,” Cheryl Schmit, director of Stand Up for California, said in a statement. “Those deals would make California home to the largest casinos in the world.”

The California presidential primary is Feb. 5.

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