Minn. Gambling Proposal Makes Annual Debut

By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV and Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Two Republican lawmakers said Monday that Minnesota could raise money for job creation efforts by allowing horse racing tracks to install video slot machines.

The push to expand casino-style gambling has been regularly stymied at the Capitol. Supporters are counting on a different reception this year, in part because of the state’s severe budget problems.

Sen. David Senjem of Rochester and Rep. Bob Gunther of Fairmont are sponsoring the plan. But the debate usually cuts across party lines.

A news release promoting the bill says it would authorize the Minnesota Lottery to operate slot machines at existing horse tracks in Shakopee and Columbus. The proposal calls for 400 video gaming machines at Canterbury Park and Running Aces Harness Park.

Democratic Sen. Dan Sparks, of Austin, authored a similar bill last year and said he is in support of the current legislation.

“Racino legislation is an excellent example of legislation that both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on,” Sparks said.

The bill would also establish the Minnesota Future Fund — a revenue fund that would be used to provide money for new and existing businesses, to grow jobs and expand the economy.

“So as we have employers in Minnesota who are thinking about expanding,  if we have employers in Minnesota who are thinking about leaving Minnesota — we’re going to be able to intervene, and we are going to be able to keep that business or grow that new business,” Senjem said.

Gunther said this bill would also help keep businesses in Minnesota and out of Wisconsin, a tough competitor due to several job initiatives.

“There’s a banker in La Crosse that calls me up about every other month and tells me all the industries he gained from Minnesota. I want to call him back and we’re going to be able to do that with the Minnesota Future Fund,” he said.

Lawmakers say expanding gambling at the two horse tracks would raise about $250 million over two years.

Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he wants to see more details before pledging support or opposition. Dayton has previously said he wanted any money from expanded gambling to be spent on education programs, but he said Monday that job creation might be important enough to direct the money there instead.

However, he has been cool to suggestions that money aid stadium construction.

The authors of the bill say a Vikings stadium is “not on the menu.” They say they haven’t talked with the Vikings about how the bill could potentially help to fund a new stadium but also say it wouldn’t be prohibited.

Senjem and Gunther say the main priority of the bill is to create jobs and help revive the horse racing industry.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association does not support this idea, and neither do Christian conservatives who are opposed on moral grounds.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association released a statement Monday morning saying this bill will not create new jobs, it will simply shift jobs from rural casinos to the metro racinos. They claim most of the profits will go to the racetracks’ wealthy owners, and not to the state.

“Once they open this door, it’s going to really decimate tribal gaming,” said John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents nine of Minnesota’s 11 Indian tribes. “The economies of a lot of these communities that are around these tribal gaming operations have done very well.”

Earlier this year, state GOP chairman Tony Sutton wrote a letter to every Republican legislator urging opposition to expanded gambling.

A spokesman for Running Aces, one of the two proposed sites, said the bill introduced Monday reflects the priorities at Canterbury Park more than those of the track in Columbus, which is north of the Twin Cities near Interstate 35. John Derus, a Running Aces board member, said his organization supports the effort in principle but has significant issues with the bill in its current form.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • jimmy

    How to win the lottery. First buy a failing race track, then pay off a few politicians, then bingo, bango bongo you got a casino

    • Earl

      Cantebury has been around for 30 years, hardly bingo bango bongo

    • yarbo

      How to get a gambling monopoly, First payoff the DFL attorney general to not only give you a monopoly, but you do not pay the state one dime. How to maintain the monopoly, payoff every DFL politician then bingo, bango, bongo, you got a monopoly forever. What a country!!!

      • Hayward

        You are 100% correct.

      • yarbo sucks

        yarbo: you’re an idiot… just shut the F up… you have an issue…

  • Loves MN for not have slots everywhere!!

    Have they actually ever really done the math and figured out how much they would make. The owner of the house track who doesn’t even live in state would get the most. The cost of the machines and labor and all the good stuff that goes along with business expenses would get a good chunk.Hw much does it actually generate for MN. It would creat jobs but those jobs created would just take away from existing casinos so it is a latteral job creation in the market. And allowing them in race tracks just opens the door for them to approve bars, bowling alleys, and gas stations to have slot machines. Drive through South Dakota, Kansas, many states that just look trashy with all the random slot machines everywhere. It just encourages many people that can’t afford it to have greater access to spend money that they can’t afford to lose when the access to the gambling is on every corner. MN has many options to raise money for the budget. We spent $776 million on a new Twins Stadium a few years ago. Poor Hennepin county is paying for that. MN spent $303,000 by then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) for wild rice in St. Paul. Five projects worth $815,725 have been earmarked for Minnesota’s state grain since 1999.

    We also $240,000 by then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) for the Shubert Performing Arts Center in Minneapolis. The Shubert (tagline: “Because Everybody Dances”) promises to “elevate and showcase” Minneapolis’s dance community and give “them a permanent and affordable home where audiences experience the best of this dynamic art form for years to come.”
    Minnesota ranked 39th in the United States for most pork money per capita. The Minnesota delegation requested $104,168,643, which comes to $19.95 per Minnesotan. In 2008, we ranked 26th.

    Really I think MN has alot that they can trim from the budget and still come ahead with out Racinos

    • Chris

      Slot machines everywhere??? That’s a new one. In 1997, there were only about 9,000 slot machines in the state of Minnesota. Today there are over 23,000 machines at 18 casinos. Why would adding a couple of thousand machines at two fixed places that already have 24/7 gambling be adding slot machines everywhere?

      The idea that jobs would simply transfer from one casino to another is also absurd. Racinos in Pennsylvania have created 44,000 agriculture jobs since 2006 and added $3.4 billion to the value of the horse industry. Those are real jobs. If you want to talk about shifting jobs from one place to another let’s talk about how the horse industry is leaving Minnesota to go to states like Iowa, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania because those states have racinos and we do not.

    • captainobvious

      Target field was not 776mill, so lets not hear your stats

    • lefty

      if you do not like the fact that there are slots in minneosta move. It is a joke how people who do not want gambling in the state make a big deal about it. Its like in the winter people who do not like the cold move south so everyone who does not want slots or any other type of gambling go south and the sooner the better

      • Cope with it gamblers

        Ya git it wrong there junior – the reason we don’t have it is we ARE the majority. Maybe chaps like you need to warm up yer cars and head down the road …. fast.

    • http://madminnesota@yourdoorstep.com married to the truth

      Your probably on Mystics payroll to say stuff like that. Well guess what!? So am I! Only I get paid way more than you do! I’m open to state wide gambling and don’t think it will pose any real threat to us. We have had many years or growth and wealth. I’m pretty sure we can sustian our tribe as it is for many more even with state run gambling everywhere. We offer an entire complex that a gas station or a bar can not! That is what brings people to us and that is why we have been so lucky over the past 20 years. If Mr. Prescot is paying you, please tell him you are not doing your job and you should be fired! After all he collects all the moeny and doesn’t live here, just like what you said about the owner of canterbury card club! You are a very expensive joke mr! This is an open letter from a member of SMSC. Not by someone that gets paid by us trying to spew hate!

  • WOW

    Put slots in bars get the drunks to spend money! Great money maker for the State!

    • Hayward

      Add smoking and the state can triple dip.

  • Bob

    Some of you must be native Americans! This bill makes sense for the taxpayers of Minnesota! The tribes pay nothing , wake up tax payers . We should all be writing are politicians to support this! We are being fleeced.

    • KracktKrocker Bob

      Bob – we got enough fricken issues in this state w/o tossing more fuel onto the fire of the poor saps desperate for a quick fix. That includes the state and the pizz poor desparate gamblers.
      Seems you got some skin in this game – interest in a track , horses, or what?
      Enough of this gambling BS for once and all.
      Next up — casino for the stadium.
      You guys are as creative as hemmoroids on a cadaver

  • Thomas gets it Bobby

    Booby Bobby – most of us are friggen sick of you and your kind grasping at straws for a fix.
    You have horses or what’s your interest now anyway??? ;-)

  • BBB

    Funny how some rant for change every time they can. Seems to me most in MN don’t really want all this BS they keep bringing forward. If we did we’d elect the people needed to get it done.

    So Cantebury must be hurting again? I feel for them and been know to visit a track once in a while … for the horses. That’s why it’s called a Race Track. ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) :-)

  • Bob

    I don’t have a horse, I am tired of the tribes skating by for free! Wake up tax payers!

  • http://www.ehorse.tv/minn-gambling-proposal-makes-annual-debut/ Minn. Gambling Proposal Makes Annual Debut | eHorse

    […] sponsors of the latest bill seeking to allow horse racing tracks to install video slot machines. Harness Horse Racing – Yahoo! News Search Results Share and […]

  • Am I missing something?

    We have casino’s in MN, they pay NO tax and provide NO revenue for the state.

    We have horse racing tracks that are privately owned, where gambling takes place already…the state gets tax money.

    If the state puts slots in the horse tracks, the state gaiins some revenue from the proceeds.
    Is it a “fix” to our budget deficit? No, but why would anyone be opposed to a different source of rvenue for the state?

  • wjaag

    I am totally for the slots in the race tracks!! I lived in Reno, Nv. I did not gamble but I also could if I wanted to. I personally love Aces and enjoy going there and think it would be a bennifit to the track. I really don’t understand the big deal about it. If people gamble they are going to gamble whether it’s at Hinkley , Treasure Island, or where ever it may be. If it does bring in jobs great!!! if it helps the deficit Great!!!
    If you are relly against it just don’t go!!! If I don’t like something such as a movie then I don’t go. What is the big deal!!!!
    Have an open mind.

  • Johnny Rocker

    Geez republicans are such d-bags….

    • Am I missing something?

      Great insight Johnny- I really like the way you use logic and reason to support your point of view. You seem like a real stand up type of guy. Keep up the good work!

      • Wendell in Albert Lea

        sheeez Republicans are such s-bags ….
        better now???
        I thin’ so

  • BMW

    On the one hand the native Indians should not have an exclusive on Casino gambling. Also, would not it serve a little more justice if Indian casinos did have to pay in some tax revenues even if it was just a small percentage….

    On the other hand, all slot machines and casinos do is cause common folks to go broke spending their last nickel gambling. Welfare and social security recipients spend their checks at the casinos. People lose homes and families because of gambling. Studies have proven there is a correlation with an increase in crime in communities where casinos go in. Yes, gambling can be fun and exciting, although little good comes of it in the end.

    That said, leave the casinos on the Indian reservations. Increase tax revenues the old fashioned way by creating jobs.

    • Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

      I have news for you BMW, the casinos on Indian Reservations are already causing the kind of addictive gambling you mention and the tribes don’t pay for gambler’s anonymous — it’s funded by taxpayers through the Minnesota Lottery. The very issues you raise are already happening. Wouldn’t it be better to have places to go that are overseen by the Minnesota Lottery where some of the money comes back to the state and helps gambling addiction?

      And if you want to create jobs, this is the way to do it. Racinos create jobs. In Pennsylvania, 44,000 agricultural jobs have been created in the horse industry since racinos opened in 2006. And the revenue would be dedicated by the legislature here for economic development and job creation without taxing anyone.

    • Am I missing something?

      So we should do whatever it takes to protect the poor people from throwing thei money away? Alcohol and tobacco are other things that the poor throw their money away at, should we ban tobacco and go through prohibition again? We can’t(and shouldn’t) protect everyone from everything. And I don’t buy the whole notion that casinos bring crime. How much crime is taking place in Prior Lake? not as much as in north Minneapolis/Brooklyn Center and there are no casinos close to Minneapolis. Prior Lake has 2 casinos and a horse track, with a fairly low crime rate.
      And my last point to that effect, even if crime does go up slightly in an area where gambling happens, this bill does not introduce gambling to any new areas. They are only expanding gaming in 2 existing venues.

      • Ugh

        That’s because prior lake is pretty white, Every been to N. Minneapolis/Brooklyn Center, it’s pretty dark there.

  • Am I missing something?

    So we confirmed 2 things today… most people that post in message boards are immature losers who resort to name calling….and those people are usually Dems.

    Wow guys, just throwing mud at republicans without referencing anything about the article at hand, or why you feel that way. Keep up the great work, you are making dems look bad.

    • Yikes - bad policy

      I’m a republican and I still think you are a loser. ’nuff said.

  • Am I missing something?

    Thanks for proving my first point.
    But please, explain your point of view. WHY are you against Racinos?

  • BJ

    If this would by any chance create jobs for Minnesotans – I’m for it. My husband has been out of work for almost 2 years and not much hope. We need jobs in Minnesota ! Like the one gentlemen stated “if you don’t like casinos, don’t go”. You do have a choice. Yes, the native american casinos need some competition. I’m tired of hearing about all of benefits that just get handed over to them. I believe everyone should have a break and receive EQUALLY – no exceptions. That’s called BEING FAIR AND EQUAL RIGHTS.

  • mike

    Just get it done!!! we want the Racino

  • tiredandretired

    Gambling is a drain on the economy. It produces no real goods and is nothing more than a tax on the poor and middle class people, whom can least afford to throw their money away on it.

    • kit

      What makes you think that gamblers are only the poor who can least afford it? There are plenty of gamblers with more than enough money to support their hobby. If not the casinos wouldn’t be making huge profits! They depend on the wealthy gamblers to sustain their business. No one gets rich off the poor gambler.

      • Am I missing something?

        Kit- This is the BS that is made up to rally people against expanding gambling. There are many situations where this is the case, I am sure. But to use it as a blanket judgement is irresponsible.

    • Am I missing something?

      i’m sorry, but that logic is so flawed…the people that are going to gamble will continue to gamble regardless of the venue. If you are against gambilng all together, then that is a seperate issue If these people gamble, why not have that money they lose actually go back into the state and do some good, rather than get lost and stay with the tribes?


    Ok, so if I don’t want to gamble, I don’t gamble. Why are we letting people who will NEVER GO to these places decide what should be in there? You want to legislate what you allow the middle and lower class to spend their money on? Why is it that you feel so comfortable telling the rich, who go out and build companies that we all work for which pay me my salary, pay more for my health insurance than I do, how they should spend their money? Why is it that you also feel comfortable telling the poor and middle classes what they shouldn’t be spending their money on? Which of you has the Master’s Degree in “Other People’s Finances”?? It’s ridiculous how you can’t keep from sticking your nose into other people’s pocket books!! America is the Land of Opportunity and Free Choice. Yet you want to decide all these things for them……

  • karen

    Gamblers will always gamble. Given a choice, I would spend my money at the Racino to help out the state, rather than the tribes. If the state refuses to tax the indian casinos to help the state reduce the taxes and fees that we must pay, then, give us a choice, give us the Racino. It will create jobs: cashiers, slot technicians, management, janitors, attendants, etc. Revenues will also help us reduce our tax burden and I am all for it!!!

    • Hayward

      Right on Karen. Also something for thought, MN Indian gaming has the worlds worst return. I spend my gambling money in Vegas., but given a better return I would love to give some to the state.

    • KracktKrocker at Karen

      So a gambler will always gamble you say …. ok. I bite
      Guess if one doesn’t want to give it to the tribes then go across the border to … oh wait. That doesn’t work. Go to Jersey or Vegas I guess. Give it to the syndicate. Makes way more sense – great return and benefit to all there. LMAO

      • Jamie

        You been in a time capsule, the mob has been out of vegas for years and I would not put Trump in the Jersey syndicate.

  • Leslie

    I like the concept but why do they always have to stick the money in a project. Just put it in the general fund and use it for priority projects like education, roads, policeman, etc. I am sick of these politicians being payed off for a vote for some pet project like environment for the dems, or business for the republicans. Each budget year should start with prioritys and how much money do we have.

  • shawn

    Eff the lazy wahoo’s! Lets see how much they have to pay off the dems again to discard this bill again? Instead of raking in 40k a month to probably 30k/mth. Either way you can still afford your E & J brandy or Jim Beam regardless chief (s)!!

  • ynotgiveitago

    400 Slots aren’t enough to make it work. If you want people to go to these places you need to have at least 1000. If there isn’t enough and you can’t get on a machine, people won’t go and it will flop.Mysic Lake has more than 4,000 slots and on weekends they are almost all in use. The legislature needs to put this on the ballot and let the people of Minnesota decide if they want it or not. Then all of you can let your vote speak instead of ranting in this column.

  • grandma


    I sick and tired of this s– always going politcal. All politians suck. No matter which party.

  • Repeat this again and again MN'ers

    Bring It On Baby – and I want the Minni_minne Amsterdam in downtown too. Casino with legal dope to smoke in shops, some legal prostitution on Block E with a full Red Light District.
    Bring on the Vices Baby, bring them on. Yahoo to the 1 veteran GOP’ers for bringing this bill forward.
    Minnesota – Land of Taxes and Sins (but only to some) !!!!
    Bring it home to pappa

    • Julie

      you are wacko!!!! noone said anything about drugs like Amsterdam, if you want all that then why don’t you move there.

  • Funtime in the Minneapple

    A Minne-Amsterdam might be something I could get behind.
    Seriosly – why stop with the Racino thing. If you are going to change the law on this lets change it BIG TIME and make some money.
    A Vice is a Vice and the Amsterdam thing is not any different in my mind than if gambling gets expanded. Most people don’t gamble but at least this might bring them in for others fun activities.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>> Let’s do it <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

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