Gov. Shutdown Would Mean Layoffs For Minn. Racetracks

SHAKOPEE (WCCO) — The countdown to a government shutdown has thousands of Minnesota families wondering if they’ll see a steady paycheck this summer. And it’s not just state workers who could feel the pinch in 16 days if lawmakers don’t agree on a budget.


Private workers at state-regulated Running Aces and Canterbury Park will also be laid off if the racetracks shut down. It’s because there will be no one to regulate gaming in Minnesota.


Approximately 1,000 workers at Canterbury Park and 500 workers at Running Aces could lose their job if there is a shutdown.


“This has a lot of different elements. There is no doubt about it,” said Bob Farinella, who runs Running Aces in Columbus, Minn., on the northeast side of the Twin Cities. “If we do not have the ability to stay open, we will shut down. We have no choice.”


Farinella sent layoff notices to his 500 employees late Tuesday afternoon, just 16 days ahead of a possible state government shutdown.


The state regulates gaming in Minnesota, but it’s the actual tracks that pay for the regulatory activities, which include inspectors and veterinarians.


Running Aces has already paid in-advance for these activities, about $750,000, according to Farinella.


“Our case is essentially we’re paying for the service, so let’s not shut it down, because it is being self-supporting,” he said.


Farinella said that his business supports the local economy and that’s another fear he has to shutting down the gaming operation.


“We have a large budget, $12-$14 million a year spent in the local economy buying products and services. So it’s a huge economic impact to the community, no question,” he said.


Canterbury Park, in Shakopee, Minn, has also told its 1,000 employees about a possible shutdown, temporarily. They were notified by management on Tuesday too.


Trainers who come to the complex to race from all around the country say they’d be force to leave if the place closes, and they’d take their horses and their own workers with them.


“We’ve got 1,200 horses here. We need every one of them. It would scare me if they would leave,” said Jeff Maday, a spokesperson for Canterbury Park. “If they don’t have a good experience here, there’s a 110 race tracks in this country that they could choose to run in. They don’t have to come to Shakopee to race.”


Managers from both operations will be meeting with State Gaming officials on Wednesday. They’re hoping to work out a solution to this issue.


State Gaming officials did not return several phone calls WCCO-TV made, requesting to talk with them about the issue.



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