Gov. Dayton Signs Bill to Expand Casino Gambling, Revive Horse Racing

Canterbury Park officials say implementation of the amended law will occur in stages.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation Friday that amends laws governing Canterbury Park's card room, Canterbury Park officials said Friday.

The amendments, which are effective immediately, will increase Canterbury's flexibility to operate its card room which should lead to increased revenues, as well as increased purses for live races at Canterbury Park’s Racetrack.

“While this legislation will not solve the revenue problems the industry faces, it is an important step in the right direction for Minnesota horse racing," said Randy Sampson, Canterbury Park’s President and CEO. "We are grateful the Legislature and Governor recognized the current, fragile state of horse breeding and horse racing in Minnesota and provided new tools we can use to strengthen our business and enhance purses."

The bill was born out of a deal between the owners of Minnesota's and the  tribe, which operates . 

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan), HF2795/SF1727* will expand the number of tables from 50 to 80 and increase the poker bet limit from $60 to $100. It also removes limits on the number of poker tournaments that can be conducted, as well as limits on the number of tables used in poker tournaments.  In addition, it allows Canterbury to conduct “banked” card games, in which customers play against the house, along with the unbanked games it currently conducts. 

Officials estimate it could provide a 40 percent boost to Canterbury's purses. 

"We wish to publicly express our gratitude to Senator Claire Robling (R-Jordan) and Representative Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), the co-authors of this legislation, for their tireless efforts to bring this legislation to fruition," Sampson added. "We also appreciate the support of the Tribal gaming industry in Minnesota and look forward to the possibility of working in cooperation with the Tribes to provide statewide exposure to horse race wagering.” 

Jeff Hilger, president of the Equine Development Coalition of Minnesota, which actively supported the legislation, also commented: "Racing purses are the fuel of our horse industry.  This legislation will help stop the decline of the breeding industry in Minnesota and send a clear sign to Minnesota owners and trainers that the state is serious about protecting the future of the equine industry." 

Implementation of the amended law will occur in stages. Initially, Canterbury plans to increase the number of tables hosting live play from 50 to 60, the card room’s current capacity, to accommodate customers during peak periods. 

Additional expansion, higher betting limits and expanded poker tournaments will be implemented based on market demand. Officials say it will take some time to determine the incremental revenue and purse enhancements from the card room legislation. 

"It is difficult to predict the timing of implementation and the expected impact on purses due to the regulatory approval process and the need to determine the interest of the Tribal casinos to host horse race wagering," Sampson said.

He also said they are currently having conversations with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community about potential joint marketing and purse enhancements. 

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