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Dayton open on racino, but not pushing it

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton Updated: February 2, 2011 - 3:58 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton may yet be willing to roll the dice on gambling.

On Wednesday, he said he was open to a racino -- the shorthand for slot machines at the state's race tracks -- but had strong thoughts on the use of the proceeds.

"The racino has the advantage of being ready to go (but) the disadvantage that it's the two private operators and I'm frankly not interested in expanding gaming for the purpose of private profit. If we are going to expand gaming I want those dollars to go into the public coffers to support school children," Dayton said to applause from the group of Rochester delegates, who came to St. Paul to pitch their needs at the Capitol.

Dayton also said he thought any gaming increase would have to be separate from the funding for a new stadium for the Vikings.

"If there is going to be any expansion of gaming it has got to go for the purposes that we can support as the citizenry and that to me is, first and foremost, a better education for all of our children," the governor said.

He added his well-tested joke that he doesn't gamble, "I've found surer ways to lose my money through politics."

After his talk, Dayton said on racino: "I'm open to any source of revenue but I'm not supporting it at this time."

The governor had said Tuesday that he wouldn't include gaming revenues in his budget due out later this month. During the campaign, he had floated the idea of a new state-owned casino at the Mall of America.

"From a budget, next biennium stand point, I just don't see that as having any impact on the budget," he said.

Asked if a gambling expansion may be part of the end-of-session negotiations, he said: "If the Legislature wants to open that door, I'm willing to discuss possibilities with them but my requirement would be that the proceeds from any kind of expanded gambling would go to the benefit of the people of Minnesota and not to a private interest."

 

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