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Racino Could Be Best Option To Pay For Stadium

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – There’s some new numbers out on how to fund a potential Minnesota Vikings stadium.

A report obtained Wednesday said slot machines located at Minnesota’s two horse racing tracks would generate enough annual revenue to build the Vikings stadium with plenty left over for education.

Lawmakers are looking at this new report, completed in just the last couple of weeks. It’s an idea supporters said could be the least complicated way to a Vikings stadium without raising new taxes. 

The new revenue figures show Canterbury Park and Running Aces horse racing tracks could generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year from slot machines. It’s enough to pay for a Minnesota Vikings stadium and more.

“There’s all kinds of other options that have been talked about, but the money is not there. The money is there with racino to get this done,” said Rep. Senator Al DeKruif of Madison Lake.

The Minnesota State Lottery prepared the study, showing racetrack slots would generate $432 million a year and $133.3 million in new taxes to the state. It’s enough for a Vikings stadium and to pay off part of the state’s crushing debt to schools.

“What i think we need to do is get this paid off as quickly as we can get this paid off,” DeKruif said. “Believe me theses tribes will compete. They’ll ramp it up.”

The Indian Gaming Association said the racino numbers are grossly inflated. That’s in part because tribes will boost their payouts to keep customers.

And a warning: It could mean layoffs for thousands of tribal casino workers statewide.

“And the losers are going to be the people who lose their jobs. And the winners are going to be the millionaires like Zygi Wilf and the Sampsons and others,” said John McCarthy with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

New York opened several racinos on Tuesday, which brought in state taxes of $1.5 million on the first day. On the other hand, voters in Maine turned down a proposal to open two racino operations. Racino remains controversial across the country.

Republicans assembling a stadium bill said gambling is the most likely way to pay for it, and Gov. Mark Dayton is considering it.

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