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Racino rides again: State Rep. Al Juhnke this morning successfully inserted his proposal to allow slot machines at Minnesota horse racing tracks into a biomass study bill.

Racino: It’s back in play

Rep. Al Juhnke

Rep. Al Juhnke

State Rep. Al Juhnke this morning successfully inserted his proposal to allow slot machines at Minnesota horse racing tracks into a biomass study bill.

Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, offered an amendment to HF 2100 in the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Committee, which he chairs. The bill, which passed on a voice vote, was sent to the House Finance Committee.

Racino proponents say the bill would bring the state $125 million a year by allowing slots at Canterbury Park in Shakopee and Running Aces in Columbus. The perennial issue is opposed by Minnesota Indian tribes who operate casinos and by critics of expanded legal gambling, including anti-gambling addiction advocates.

Juhnke said his racino proposal is germane to the biomass study because part of the revenue generated from racinos would be used for rural economic development.

Racino has suffered at the Capitol from lack of support from Gov. Tim Pawlenty and bipartisan criticisms in the Legislature. The bill was tabled in a Senate committee due to a lack of votes, leading to speculation that the bill would be resurrected later in the session as a floor amendment.

However, a lobbyist for tribal interests predicted privately to PIM yesterday that Juhnke might make a move on racino at today’s hearing. That sentiment was apparently widespread, as high-profile lobbyists who represent tribal interests (including Ted Grindal and Andy Kozak) attended the hearing.

Lobbyists in favor of the racino included Former Sen. Dick Day and Canterbury Park lobbyist Ron Jerich.


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