Canterbury Slots Measure Defeated in Committee

A new gambling package rose from the ashes of several rejected plans Thursday in the Minnesota Senate Tax Committee, but it was unlikely the bill would get far in the final days of session. One of the rejected plans was a proposal to add slot machines at Canterbury Park.

The House last year passed the bill to allow slot machines at Canterbury and had been counting on those funds to help balance the budget this session. But prospects for that proposal, too, seemed dim.

Tax Chairman Larry Pogemiller offered the latest plan, saying it would preserve existing gambling compacts with tribes and allow them to voluntarily sign new compacts for a new casino off reservation.

The proposal would:

_Require the governor to negotiate with tribes interested in building a new casino cooperatively on non-tribal land (likely in the Twin Cities area) if at least nine of the state's 11 tribal governments sign compacts to participate and agree to give the state between 20 percent and 50 percent of gross revenues.

_Permit Canterbury Park's card club to increase the maximum number of tables from 50 to 100 in exchange for 6.5 percent of the card club's gross revenue going to the state.

_Allow a new harness racing track being planned for Anoka County to simulcast all breeds and have the same card club rules as Canterbury Park.

A provision that would have allowed another card club at Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort was removed from the bill.

Before that bill was approved, a proposal to add slot machines at Canterbury was defeated 7-5; one to allow slots in bars was overwhelmingly defeated on a voice vote; and a proposal to build a private casino, probably near the Mall of America, wasn't put up for a vote.

The Pogemiller bill, endorsed on a 7-5 vote, would have several stops before a floor vote. With the session ending Monday, such a proposal's chances of making it through the Legislature are very slim.

"Obviously, it would be tight," Pogemiller said, acknowledging that if it were to pass at all, it probably wouldn't be this session.

Tribal members had mixed reactions to the bill.

David Glass, a member of the White Earth band, called the proposal creative.

"I think it's a positive step," he said.

The White Earth and Red Lake bands earlier this week had presented a similar proposal to the committee, but it would only have included those two tribes. When they were first putting the plan together, they asked other tribes to join them, but no one accepted.

Red Lake and White Earth are the only two tribes in Minnesota that don't belong to the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

Gordon Adams Jr., a representative for the Bois Forte Reservation in far northern Minnesota, said association members like his tribe had consistently opposed expanding gambling to new facilities in the past.

While it seemed unlikely that stance would change, Adams said members of his band "will take a close look at this proposal."

In any case, he said there wouldn't be enough time to give the newest proposal a thorough hearing this session.