ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A bill enhancing gambling at tribal casinos and privately owned horse racing tracks in Minnesota sprung up and steamed ahead Saturday night as the Minnesota Legislature’s session moved into its final days
The proposal, which the state Senate passed 44-18, would let horse tracks like Shakopee’s Canterbury Park expand the number of card-game tables and raise betting stakes on those games. Tribal casinos would get to simulcast live horse racing and take bets. The tracks also get a better deal on blackjack games.
It marks a rare moment of unity among the American Indian tribes and race track owners, who have long split over state gambling policy. For years, the racetracks have lobbied lawmakers — without success — to give them authority to have slot machines that are now the exclusive offering of casinos operated by tribes.
Ron Rosenbaum, a Canterbury spokesman, said track owners are standing down for now on slots because they would get extra money from the expanded card games and from tribal simulcasting that they can plow back into racing purses.
“We haven’t always been on the same page with the tribes and now we are,” Rosenbaum said.
Backers say the law change could expose more people to Minnesota horse racing because live races will be simulcast at casinos far from the two tracks where they are now run, in Shakopee in the south and in Columbus to the north.
The bill raises the number of limits on card tables from 50 to 80 and raises the maximum bet from $60 to $100. On blackjack, players would wager against the house instead of a less-lucrative setup known as “unbanked” games, where players compete against one another and the dealer takes a cut from total wagers.
The bill heads to the House for a vote, which could send the measure to Gov. Mark Dayton.
Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chanhassen, said the proposal has been in the works for months but only came together recently. For that reason, he said he deferred final action until Monday.
“I don’t know everyone has had time to digest everything in it,” Hoppe said.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)