Report: Group Seeks Expanded Calif. Gaming

A push is under way in California for expanded gaming at proposed casinos or any outlet that currently holds a gaming license, including racetracks.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Nov. 9 that an organization called "The DeVille Group" plans to spend about $2 million to collect one million signatures for a ballot initiative in November 2002.

For a constitutional amendment, more than 670,000 valid signatures are necessary.

The Union-Tribune reported that the 39-page proposal would lift restrictions on the number of slot machines permitted statewide and at Indian reservations. It also calls for craps, roulette, Internet gambling, Jai Alai, and all other banking and percentage games.

Casino licenses could be issued anywhere in the state. Any gaming licensee would have a "vested right" to an unrestricted license, the proposal says. That includes 61 tribes with compacts, more than 100 card clubs, and all racetracks in the state.

The initiative would abolish the California Gambling Control Commission, the attorney general's Division of Gambling Control, the California Horse Racing Board, and the State Athletic Commission. It would substitute a new regulatory system modeled after one in Nevada.

Representatives of the state's largest card rooms said they had nothing to do with the proposal.

"Nobody's talked to me about anything like this," Haig Kelegian, who heads an association of the state's biggest card rooms, told the newspaper. "I don't think it will fly."

But Kelegian did say the measure would bring parity to a gambling industry dominated by tribes' monopoly on slot machines.