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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Gambling on gambling

I am probably going to stir up a hornets nest with this but here goes anyway...

Here in the Savage Lands we have Indian gaming and a fairly successful mid-size horse racing facility. I have long admired the tribes use of gaming profits to develop non-gaming related business interests. They have built a health club, a daycare center, a strip mall that includes a gas station run by the tribe, a hotel and a golf course. If the day comes when the casino profits dry up (not likely to happen anytime soon) well they can still provide for themselves. BRAVO for free enterprise!

Well now the race track wants to add slot machines (run by the Minnesota Lottery commission) and expand their card club (in addition to their live and simulcast horse racing) in order to do the same thing. They want to build an equestrian/agriculture center and hotel complex that would bring world class equestrian competition to the Twin Cities. Now I will admit my bias up front - I used to show in the type of equestrian competitions that would be brought to the area! I still know people in the business who would be coming up here should this facility be built.

This plan has opposition from the tribe and from conservatives. Now the tribes opposition I can understand. They feel that this will cut into their "action". The conservative opposition is what I am puzzled by. Here we have a regulated business who is wanting to expand the non-regulated part of their operation. Yes it will be funded by their gaming operation, I get that. The conservatives that are blocking this say that they do not want an "expansion" of gambling. The problem is, the tribe can expand their gaming operation at will and we have nothing to say in this, we have no say in the matter. The race tracks expansion would be tightly regulated by the state (which I am not horribly fond of but I understand the reasoning why) and it will ultimately benefit the county in the form of more jobs (and thus more employment taxes paid to the state) and more tourists (in the form of the horse show people who have unreal amounts of money) and in the form of property tax relief. It is a win/win for the area, as far as Ic an see...

However, I want to try to understand the other side. Why should conservatives object to racino at Canterbury Park?

Discuss in ccomments.


Tom Rees, Former State Representative, Scott County said...

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this questionable proposal that all conservatives should recognize as ill conceived.
While Representative Buegens, the Chief Author of the proposal, tries to present a socially benign outcome to his "Racino" proposal, he does not continue the to the logical conclusion the result of licensing Canterbury Park thousands of slot machines or whatever he chooses to refer them.

1. There is no way that Canterbury Park can compete with the existing gambling facility; its overhead will always be higher allowing the competition to provide greater return for a serious, or perhaps addicted gambler that ultimately provides the profit for the such an operation.
2. Should Representative Buesgens proposal be adopted, Minnesota taxpayers would own the gaming machines and be stuck with them if my first point is viable.
3. After sticking tens of millions of dollars into Canterbury Park can the legislature just walk away from the licensee? I would suggest not. Representative Buesgens would probably lead the effort to allow Canterbury ownership to also license a Mall of America facility to provide revenues lacking from the Shakopee gaming facility when their revenue projections are unmet. (This has happened before at the facility when it was called Canterbury Downs if you look at the history of the facility.)
4. Or perhaps the current ownership of Canterbury Park would decide that after being granted the license that accepting a lucrative offer from a Las Vegas or Atlantic City gaming company would be the best for their shareholders. There was testimony during a State Senate hearing from potential suitors indicating their interest in gaining a foothold in Minnesota to further their gaming profits.
5. Once a license is granted to a private company for gaming machines, is it unreasonable for a Jordan bar owner to want the same potential revenue stream for his operation? What expansion is it to a bar store that sells pull-tabs or lottery tickets that Representative Buesgens does not seem to understand the difference? Research has demonstrated significant differences that he seems to obligingly ignore.
All one needs to do is go to the Campaign Finance website at to see the contributors to Representative Buesgens’ campaign to understand why he is pushing this ill conceived proposal. Of all the big buck contributors, which Representative Buesgens has reached his limit (he had to return $150 to a contributor because he was over his limit from large contributors) only one resides in the district! These people expect a return on their substantial investment; one of the contributors is quoted as saying as much.
I thank the writer for recognizing the success of the Scott County Indian Community; I knocked on their doors in 1978 and won their votes. To see the success they have achieved in one generation is remarkable!

Tom Rees


10:03 PM  

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