Gov. Mark Dayton signed four bills into law Friday afternoon – including a rare cooperative gaming agreement between a tribal casino and Minnesota racing tracks -- and vetoed a fifth.
The gaming bill, a last-minute bipartisan effort to expand gambling and increase the size of purses at Minnesota’s struggling racing tracks, would allow tribal casinos to simulcast races, while Canterbury Park and Running Aces tracks increase the number of poker tables and up the stakes in their card rooms.
“While this legislation will not solve the revenue problems the industry faces, it is an important step in the right direction for Minnesota horse racing," Randy Sampson, Canterbury Park’s president and CEO said in a press release.
The law, parts of which take effect immediately, will allow the race track to hold more poker tournaments, increase its poker bet limit from $60 to $100 and allow gamblers to play against each other or the house in "banked" card games.
After a year of clashes between the tribes and the racetracks over the question of whether Minnesota should allow racinos -- slot machines at race tracks -- the two sides hammered out a deal that promised increased gambling revenues and purse sizes for both sides.
"We...appreciate the support of the tribal gaming industry in Minnesota and look forward to the possibility of working in cooperation with the Tribes to provide statewide exposure to horse race wagering,” Sampson said. "We are excited about the opportunity to forge a cooperative relationship with the Tribes to promote horse racing throughout the state."
Sampson said the new gambling rules will be phased in gradually, starting with larger card rooms and building toward pari-mutuel betting at the casinos.
"Initially, we will increase the number of tables hosting live play from 50 to 60, the card room’s current capacity, to accommodate our customers during peak periods," he said in a statement. "Additional expansion, higher betting limits and expanded poker tournaments will be implemented based on market demand. ... The provision in the amended law creating a framework for implementing wagering on horse races at Tribal casinos offers even greater potential for enhancing our revenues and live meet purses. However, it is difficult to predict the timing of implementation and the expected impact on purses due to the regulatory approval process and the need to determine the interest of the Tribal casinos to host horse race wagering."
Jeff Hilger, president of the Equine Development Coalition of Minnesota, also praised the legislation in a statement: "Racing purses are the fuel of our horse industry. This legislation will help stop the decline of the breeding industry in Minnesota and send a clear sign to Minnesota owners and trainers that the state is serious about protecting the future of the equine industry."
The governor also vetoed a bill that would have required the Legislature to sign off on any changes to state academic standards or graduation requirements. In his veto letter, Dayton said the legislative process takes longer – and is considerably less academically rigorous – than the state’s current way of establishing school standards.
“This bill would seriously undermine the existing standards review and revision process,” Dayton wrote. “Under currently law, the process seeks to maximize the input of people with content knowledge and teaching expertise, as well as various stakeholders, while providing multiple opportunities for public input and opinion.”
Three other bills made it into law Friday afternoon. Dayton signed off on the Legislature’s Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations, a bill clarifying public data regulations, and funds for the Help America Vote Act.
The veto letter: