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New Racino Bill Could Raise Funds For Stadium, Schools

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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 (WCCO) — The idea of a Racino is getting some extra momentum from the Republican leaders in the Minnesota Senate.

Canterbury Park in Shakopee already has horse racing and a card club, but a new bill proposed Thursday could add slots to the list of gambling, there and at Running Aces near Forest Lake.

Lawmakers, who took $2 billion from classrooms, are desperate to pay it back, and this bill would — over 30 years. There’s also enough to help build a Vikings stadium, if it’s needed.

Republican Majority Leader David Senjem says there’s not enough money from other sources, like electronic pull tabs, to fund a new Vikings stadium.

But he says his plan for $133 million annually from slots has close to enough votes to pass.

“We know that we’re pretty close, if a vote needed to be taken. I think that we may be three or four votes away, and it may be possible,” said Senjem.

Minnesota tribal casinos are already on full alert.

“Once this door is open it will never close,” said John McCarthy with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

Non-Indian slot machines don’t violate their gambling contracts with the state, but they believe it violates the constitution, and they’re prepared to sue.

“How do you say no to Rochester, St. Cloud, Brainerd when you’ve said yes to Forest Lake and Shakopee?” said McCarthy. “We don’t think that the people of Minnesota — when they voted for a lottery back in the 80s — voted to let that lottery run casinos. That’s a stretch.”

If there is Racino, McCarthy tells us the tribal casinos will not sit back and let it happen. There could be major changes to casino operations, including: Alcohol served at places like Mystic lake. Huge prize giveaways like cars and vacations. Competition would be fierce.

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