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2008-03-11
Gambling Venues Bet Big On Prop. 68

11 Aug 2004

Gambling Venues Bet Big On Prop. 68Gambling Venues Bet Big On Prop. 68In San Mateo County, gambling interests are betting big bucks on Proposition 68, having dumped nearly $3.5 million into the campaign. Leading the pack in monetary donations is Magna Entertainment Corp., which operates both the Bay Meadows Racecourse in San Mateo and Golden Gate Fields in Albany. Magna has given about $1.7 million to Proposition 68.Las Vegas, NV August 11, 2004 -- In San Mateo County, gambling interests are betting big bucks on Proposition 68, having dumped nearly $3.5 million into the campaign. Leading the pack in monetary donations is Magna Entertainment Corp., which operates both the Bay Meadows Racecourse in San Mateo and Golden Gate Fields in Albany. Magna has given about $1.7 million to Proposition 68.

Bay Meadows Main Track Investors LLC has contributed $992,000 while the two cardrooms, Lucky Chances and Artichoke Joe's, have contributed more than $400,000 each.

To date, Proposition 68 proponents have received about $12 million, all from race tracks and cardrooms that would benefit if it passes. Their opponents have collected $7.2 million. Both sides plan to blanket the state with newspaper and television ads and send crews out to get people signed up to join their coalitions.

Experts say they could be spending $50 million-plus between them, in a state where serious propositions tend to cost about $10 to $15 million. "They will go toe-to-toe," said Bill Whalen, a fellow researcher with the Hoover Institute, a public policy research center. "This is a very serious campaign, and what's unusual is both sides are well-armed."

If voters pass Proposition 68 on Nov. 2, all 53 Indian tribes must annually give 25 percent of their gaming revenues in taxesor 30,000 slot machines will be allowed in non-tribal gambling venues, horse tracks and card clubs across the state.

In San Mateo County, that would mean as many as 5,400 slots sprinkled among the race track and two cardrooms in San Bruno and Colma.

It's enough to make the San Mateo City Council want to pursue legal action should the proposition pass. Unlike San Bruno and Colma, the San Mateo council is adamant about not having slot machines in the city, saying it will create crime and gambling addictions that will take a toll on city resources.

"I don't want to see it in San Mateo," said Councilman John Lee. "Thirty rows of 100 slot machines each -- that means a tremendous amount of traffic."

Lee said people who cannot afford to gamble will start hitting the slots if there's a casino in town. It will drain the local economy, taking away from people's rent and food money. "I think the people of San Mateo know it will change our city just dramatically," Lee added.

It's no secret that the future of Bay Meadows hinges on the outcome of Proposition 68. While the owner, Terry Fancher, is moving forward with his plan to redevelop the track into office, housing and retail, he's definitely placed his bets on getting slot machines at the track.

If Fancher could put 3,800 slots at the track, it would generate millions for him and revitalize his gambling venue. "We're hedging our bets, if you will," said Adam Alberti, spokesman for Bay Meadows Land Company, adding that if the proposition passes, that's when Bay Meadows will decide whether to move forward with the redevelopment or operate slot machines at the track.







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