Editorial: Putting an end to racino

Published 9:42 am Friday, June 15, 2012

Last week the Mdewakanton Sioux tribe, which owns Mystic Lake casino, and the Canterbury Park horse-racing track announced the tribe would contribute $75 million during the next decade to the track’s prize purses.

In exchange, Canterbury agreed to abandon its push for video slot machines — a proposal popularly referred to as “racino” — and to oppose further attempts to expand casino gambling in the state.

The agreement, quietly brokered by the GOP House speaker and the DFL governor, appears to end the long-simmering dispute over the tribal monopoly on casino gambling in Minnesota. Canterbury and Mystic Lake are now pulling on the same end of the rope, and saving Canterbury and the state’s horse-racing industry is no longer a selling point for racino.

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Some racino proponents may have been less interested in preserving horse racing than in breaking the tribal monopoly on casino gambling. They will doubtless continue striving to do so, but it figures to be a considerably more difficult sell without Canterbury’s support.

The agreement also eliminates a possible fallback option should the financing scheme for the new Vikings stadium — electronic pulltabs — fall short.

This is no minor concern. Many of the people involved in charitable gambling are skeptical of the projected revenues cited by electronic pulltab proponents. The ultimate backstop for stadium finance is the general fund — and that is a proposition that would have no chance at the Capitol.

Some legislators — those who both favored the stadium and racino — may have viewed the potential failure of the funding mechanism as a way to get racino passed. If so, that possibility is now off the table.

And the stakes of the state’s wager on electronic pulltabs have been increased.

— Mankato Free Press, June 12

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