The proposal failed on an 8-5 vote in the Senate State Government Innovations and Veterans Committee on Monday. In arguing for the bill, Senate Majority Leader and chief sponsor Dave Senjem said new racinos would bring $130 million in state revenues annually. That money could be used to help pay back more than $2 billion owed to the state’s schools, he argued.
But the bill was subject to several GOP amendments, including one from Sen. Julianne Ortman to reroute the state’s cut of the revenues to college scholarships. The amendment would instead direct $3,000 a year to help public college students play for classes if they earn a 3.0 GPA or better.
Republican Sen. Dave Thompson, who is opposed to expanded gambling, also moved to amend the bill to require a countywide vote to approve the new racinos prior to their construction, saying it adds “additional layer of decision-making.”
Both amendments passed before the bill was voted down. The bill is unlikely to make it through the full Legislature this session, but Senjem sounded optimistic after the committee hearing, saying racino will be back next year if it can’t pass before lawmakers adjourn this session.