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Gambling Industry Wants Changes

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A secretive group is planning a two million-dollar petition drive for an initiative that would break state Indian tribes´ monopoly on gambling and make California the third state to allow Nevada-style casinos.

Little disclosure about the measure´s backers is required at this stage. That leaves those who have much to gain from the initiative, horse tracks and card clubs, unsure whether to take it seriously.

Earlier this month, the Secretary of State´s office authorized the group to begin collecting signatures for its 39-page proposal, called the Gaming Control Act.

It would mount an end-run around years of ballot fights and state compacts that allow slots and some card games on California tribal lands.

The measure would lift those restrictions for all 45 tribal casinos, 113 card clubs and all the state´s 34 horse tracks, putting anyone with a gambling license on equal footing.

A spokesman for the initiative´s backers, Craig Marlar, says the idea is level the playing field.