Racino proposal strikes again - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Racino proposal strikes again

Rochester, MN (KTTC) --

A long-running proposal is picking up speed this year in the state legislature. Racinos may be back on the table. And a former senator, now one of Racinos' biggest advocates, was here in Rochester promoting the proposal.

Former senator Dick Day says now is finally the time when the state can't afford to pass up this opportunity. He says the money Racinos can bring in could help the state through its fiscal crisis.

It's no surprise that casinos bring in a lot of revenue. Minnesota has 18 of them, all on Native American reservations.

"They take in over a billion dollars, but they don't pay property taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes."

And there are some people who want to see the state take a bite out of that meaty cash cow. Like former state Senator Dick Day, who is now the president of the lobbying group Racino Now. And during his time at the state Capitol, Day was a strong advocate for the Racino proposal, where the state can profit off of slot machines put in at race tracks. Day estimates the state can generate about $125 million a year by doing so.

"With this huge deficit, there's people saying we aren't going raise any taxes. The governor wants to do some revenues. So we're going to be sitting in a corner say, 'Hey, we got $125 million if you need it," says Day.

One organization that needs it is the Vikings. And with the metrodome roof already caved in, the decision to build a new stadium is imminent.

"I don't think we can ignore it anymore. Either we want to go down the path and save the Vikings, or we collectively say they're not important in Minnesota and tell them to go shopping," explains senator Dave Senjem.

With taxpayer dollars unlikely to be used, Day says money brought in through Racinos can help pay to keep the Vikings here.

"As a legislator, whether the Vikings want to admit it or anybody wants to admit, we have the only way for them if that's what they want to do."

Still, Racinos face tough opposition from those who don't want to see the state involved with the expansion of gambling, as well as others who don't want the reservations to lose money with their casinos.

Day says the Racino proposal is still in the works, but should be introduced in the state House and Senate chambers soon.

Powered by Frankly