Canterbury Park is making headway with its plan to expand full-card simulcasts of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing to tribal casinos in Minnesota.
Officials said Feb. 12 the racetrack and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe signed a five-year management agreement. Subject to regulatory approvals, it would allow the tribe to offer simulcast wagering on domestic and international horse races at its Northern Lights Casino Hotel and Events Center in Walker. The facility is part of the Leech Lake Gaming Division, which also owns and operates Palace Casino and White Oak Casino.
The Minnesota Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association, and the tribe also signed a purse-fund contribution agreement that will use simulcast wagering revenue from Northern Lights to increase live racing purses at Canterbury Park, which races in the spring and summer.
Minnesota doesn't have off-track betting parlors. On-site wagering is available only at Canterbury and Running Aces Harness Park which, because of a lack of an agreement with Canterbury, can import only harness simulcasts.
"There is significant interest in live horse racing in northern Minnesota, so we see a great opportunity to meet customer demand and continue to support our mission of community development," Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe chairwoman Carri Jones said in a release. "We are thrilled to create these agreements with Canterbury Park and the organizations that represent world-class Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing."
Legislation passed in 2012 established the framework that enables the tribe and other sovereign nations currently authorized to conduct gaming under a tribal-state compact to receive telecasts of horse races for simulcast wagering purposes from Canterbury and other tracks.
"This agreement will bring the excitement of live horse racing to northern Minnesota, which has a long history of supporting breeding, farming, and other industries that make the Minnesota horse industry thrive," Canterbury president Randy Sampson said. "Providing simulcast management services to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will increase exposure to racing and increase Minnesota's live racing purses."
The management agreement requires the approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Minnesota Racing Commission, with regulatory discussions expected to begin soon, Canterbury officials said.
Canterbury in 2012 signed a comprehensive agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which owns the nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, that will provide $75 million for purses at the track over 10 years. Purses already have doubled.
Canterbury was approved for a 69-day 2014 meet from May 16-Sept. 13.