Canterbury Park Holding Corp. and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community struck a 10-year “cooperative marketing agreement” by which the tribe will funnel $75 million in purses to the Minnesota racetrack in exchange for Canterbury Park not pursuing approval for slot machines.
The partnership, announced June 4, was hinted at earlier this spring when Canterbury received legislative approval to expand its card club and make the games more attractive to players. The legislation also created a framework for tribal casinos in Minnesota to offer full-card simulcasts.
Along with the purse money, the tribe, which owns and operates the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel located only four miles from the track, will spend $8.5 million in joint marketing with Canterbury over the 10 years.
“This is a great day for Minnesota horse racing and for our two organizations,” Canterbury president Randy Sampson said. “We view this agreement as the milestone that will mark the rebound of Minnesota horse racing and our local equine industry.
“If approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission, this partnership sets aside longstanding political differences over gaming and allows us to devote our attention and resources to great racing and rebuilding a prosperous horse industry in Minnesota.”
Canterbury and Running Aces Harness Park, located north of Minneapolis, have card clubs. Only tribal casinos are permitted to have slots in Minnesota.
“We believe it’s a good agreement with advantages to both parties,” said Stanley Crooks, chairman of the tribe’s business council. “It protects the horse industry in Minnesota and lets us all focus on the broader interests that we share."
Canterbury’s 2012 live race meet began May 18. The MRC is expected to address the deal in late June, and purses are expected to increase this summer.
Through the first 10 days of the meet, purses have averaged $103,195 per day at Canterbury, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Field size has averaged 7.01 horses per race.
The agreement states that $2.6 million would be added to purses this year, and $5.3 millon next year. The amount will gradually increase and top out at $8 million each year from 2018-22.
Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association president Tom Metzen called it a “landmark” agreement.
“This will ensure the advancement of the racing industry in Minnesota and ensure the many jobs related to the industry,” Metzen said. “This will be looked at as a great partnership in the industry. We want to thank both managements for their foresight.”
Metzen said that under the agreement purses this year would increase 43% from 2011 figures. He also said the agreement can be extended for two five-year periods.