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Minnesota Lawmakers Studies Slot Machines Plan for State Horse Racing Tracks

Plans to install slot machines at the state of Minnesota's two horse racing tracks changed on April 8th, 2010 to permit slot machines at just one racing track and sending forty percent of the state's profits to a Viking's football stadium.

There was no clear indication that the changes would change opposition that has blocked the "racino" proposal from going forward for years. A former senator and racino lobbyist, Dick Day, said that the proposal would produce $101 million annually for agriculture, state education and other programs, with more than $40 million available for sports establishments like the Vikings' stadium.

Day's announcement came on Thursday; the same day a House committee dismissed an attempt to change another bill to include a racino. The proposal is still pending in both legislative chambers, but Day said that the new plan is ready to be offered as an amendment when the appropriate bill comes along.

Day said that the new plan should make the northern American Indian tribes content after they complained that the Running Aces harness track, which is located in the northern Twin Cities, would lure gamers away from them. He said that the Canterbury Park in the southwest Twin Cities, would not compete with casinos in Minnesota casinos other than Mystic Lake.

Rep. Al Juhnke (DFL-Wilmar) said that the funds from the state-authorized racino could support a Vikings stadium, which is projected to cost nearly $900 million. Juhnke said that if the Legislature wants to create new employment opportunities and save the Vikings, this is the best option to do it.

There are no bills permitting a Vikings stadium but team officials said that they expect something to be approve this year. However, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said that he will not approve any bill using taxes to fund a Vikings stadium and legislative officials say they have other priorities, given the huge budget deficit that Minnesota is facing.


Wednesday, 05 May 2010
Caroline Mitchell