Racino supporters want portion of slot revenues to fund new Vikings stadiumby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio,
Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Supporters of a plan to allow slot machine gambling at horse racing tracks say they now want a portion of the projected state revenue used to build a new Vikings stadium.
Under revisions made Thursday to the so-called racino bill, a stadium would get up to 40 percent of the project's $100 million in annual state revenue.
Legislation to allow slot machines at Minnesota horse tracks has been circulating at the Capitol for 13 years. The current racino bill would allow slot machines at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.
Racino lobbyist Dick Day says that it makes sense to use gambling revenue to build a new stadium, rather than using tax increases or user fees.
"This whole Viking thing would go away, and we'd still have plenty of money for education," Day said. "It would take care of our billion dollar horse industry. It would solidify racing."
A Minnesota House panel revived the racino bill last month, but a Senate committee recently tabled the proposal. John McCarthy of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association said racino supporters appear to be desperate.
"I think that they are kind of using some of the emotional aspects of what's going on with the Vikings as a way to enhance or entice people to get involved in it," McCarthy said.
The Vikings lease on the Metrodome runs out at the end of the 2011 season. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said it's unlikely he'll propose a plan for a new Vikings stadium, and DFL leaders have said it's not a pressing issue.
Tim Pugmire covers politics and state government for MPR News.