Something very odd has happened at the Minnesota Legislature. Two parties with a long history of polarizing disagreement managed to sit down together, work out their differences and come up with a proposal that benefits them both.
No, we're not talking about the Republicans and the DFL. We're talking about the Minnesota race track owners and the Tribal gaming authorities who have been at odds for years over the idea of a racino, or race tracks with slot machines and expanded gambling.
For years, racino proponents have been pushing for the right to open slot-machine casinos at Canterbury Park. The Minnesota tribes who, by agreement with the state have the only authority to run casinos, have naturally fought against that to protect their interests.
But this year, they stopped fighting. Canterbury Park owner Randy Sampson and the leaders from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux tribe that operates Mystic Lake Casino sat down together and talked. They came up with a compromise proposal that will benefit both entities. A bill based on that agreement is whizzing through the Legislature this week. It would allow Canterbury Park and Running Aces Harness Park to add more blackjack tables, raise the betting limit on poker games, and allow blackjack players to play against the house, instead of each other.
In return, the tribal casinos would be allowed to simulcast horse races and take bets on the races. The race tracks get money to raise the purses to a level that will encourage the horse breeding industry in the state, and the tribes get another attraction for their casinos.
We hope state legislators are taking notice. If the horse track owners and tribal casinos can get together and work out win-win compromises like this, maybe DFLers and Republicans can do the same on taxes and budgets.