Could Republican Majority Mean Racino?

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Even before the new governor and legislature are out of the gate, there’s a race to the Capitol to pass racino.

Supporters of slot machines at Canterbury Park say the new Republican majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate could give them the best odds they’ve ever had.

When Democrats controlled the legislature, supporters of racino had a very hard time even getting a hearing.

Canterbury Park is pushing racetrack slot machines — racino — again. But this time a new Republican majority just might listen.

“Within four or six months we can parlay the money back to the people. We don’t have to wait for two years or a year. We would have the money instantly. Roll the slot machines in, start taking in money for the state,” said Dick Day.

Racino supporters are proposing 2000 slot machines at Canterbury Park, located in Shakopee, and Running Aces in Columbus.

The annual take for the state could be $125 million. And the Minnesota House sponsor of the bill says it’s money to use for something besides the deficit — are you ready for some football?

“Racino money should be used for special things — for infrastructure things, for like building a Vikings stadium. For doing something special things like that,” said Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar.

Indian tribes say racino threatens the 20,000 jobs they provide. And they’re willing to bet that a new Republican majority does not necessarily equal a gambling majority.

“There’s a lot of these new members that are coming in that are not pro-gambling. And they’re conservative folks from rural districts. And a lot of folks that have religious convictions,” said John McCarthy with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association

One thing is guaranteed — racino will get serious consideration this year.

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