Canterbury Has Plans for Racino, But Approval Needed

Canterbury Park has plans for a multi-purpose entertainment and gaming complex, but it hinges on legislative approval or adoption of a constitutional amendment.

The Shakopee, Minn., facility, which offers horse racing and houses a card club, made the announcement Oct. 10. The "Racino at Canterbury Park" would include slot machines and video gaming, an Olympic horse park, an agricultural events facility, and a hotel and conference center.

"Poll after poll shows a majority of Minnesotans support adding gaming options at Canterbury Park," said Randy Sampson, chief executive officer of Canterbury. "In addition to the fact that market studies show a demand for a racino development, the benefits for the state are significant with substantial new tax revenues, over 1,000 new jobs, and a major boost to the horse and agricultural industries."

Earlier this year, Innovation Group Marketing analyzed the current gaming and entertainment market in the Twin Cities region and quantified the benefits of a multi-purpose racino at Canterbury. Based on the analysis, conservative estimates indicate the racino would be highly successful in the first full year of operation and be expected to generate at least $55 million in state taxes, $1.5 million in local taxes, more than 1,000 new full- and part-time jobs, and $37 million in initial construction spending.

On the racing side, purses would increase by $8 million, and the Minnesota breeding program would get another $1.5 million, according to the study.

The Canterbury proposal already has some support in the legislature. In comments included in the track's release, state Rep. Mark Holsten said: "The racino proposal looks like a promising way of finally raising tax revenues from casino gaming without expanding the number of facilities in the state. Casinos currently operating in Minnesota are exempt from paying gambling taxes. With the state facing a major budget shortfall, creative ideas like these are needed."

Purses have steadily grown at Canterbury since it reopened in 1995. The card club that opened in the clubhouse in 2000 has produced $1.8 million in purse money.