Racino Legislation Introduced in Minnesota

Bill sponsors say VLTs at tracks would lead to more jobs.




Minnesota state Senator Dave Senjem (R-Rochester) and Representative Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) introduced legislation that would permit the operation of video lottery terminals at Minnesota’s two state-regulated racetracks. Both said the proposal, if passed, would lead to more jobs and economic growth in the state.

"Based on the results that racinos have shown in other states around the country, there is no question that racinos will be a powerful job creator for the state of Minnesota," said Senjem in a statement. "The success of similar legislation in states such as Pennsylvania shows that racinos will provide thousands of jobs within a state’s agricultural, hospitality and construction industries."

The proposed legislation would allow the Minnesota State Lottery to operate video lottery terminals at Canterbury Park in Shakopee and Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus. According to the bill’s authors, the legislation creates the Minnesota Future Fund, which "will provide dollars needed for both new and existing businesses to grow jobs and expand the state’s economy."

After operating expenses, the remaining revenue from the VLTs would go to the Minnesota Future Fund and to benefit the development of Minnesota’s horse industry, according to a release from Senjem and Gunther.

"The University of Minnesota once estimated that the impact of Minnesota’s horse industry was nearly a billion dollars, but Minnesota’s breeding and equine development investments have slipped since other states have offered a more robust purse structure for horse racing," Gunther said.

"Racinos will create jobs for grain and hay growers, veterinarians, blacksmiths, breeders, trainers, and many more individuals in rural Minnesota. These are exactly the types of jobs we need to focus on creating throughout the entire state." Gunther continued.

State Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), chief author of similar legislation in 2010, said he supports the new measure.

"Racino legislation is an excellent example of legislation that both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on," Sparks said in a statement. "Racinos are a proven way to create thousands of jobs statewide and make lasting investments in economic development. That’s why more than 75% of Minnesotans expect us to join together and pass this bill."

 The bill is expected to be heard in legislative committees prior to the end of March.