Dayton signs off on racetrack-casino bill

  • Article by: JENNIFER BROOKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2012 - 1:41 AM

Gov. Mark Dayton signed off Friday on a new state law that will unite the state's feuding racetracks and tribal casinos in a new moneymaking venture.

The gaming bill will allow tribal casinos to offer off-track betting for horse races, while the tracks expand their card rooms and raise the table stakes. Supporters hope the plan will lead to an increase in the size of race purses and give a boost to Minnesota's struggling horse racing industry.

At the Canterbury Park racetrack, where some of the law's changes will take effect immediately, officials cheered the bill-signing. The agreement ended years of conflict between casinos and racing interests over whether to allow racinos -- slot machines at casinos -- in Minnesota.

"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.

The law will be phased in. Canterbury Park will be able to begin increasing the number of tables in its card rooms immediately, and to increase its betting limit from $60 to $100, Sampson said. The expansion of pari-mutuel betting to the tribal casinos could take a bit longer to hammer out, he added.

"We are excited about the opportunity to forge a cooperative relationship with the tribes to promote horse racing throughout the state," Sampson added.

The bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support after racino legislation faltered.

Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049

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