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Minnesota Horse Racing Industry Loses Appeal After Shutdown

In the state of Minnesota, residents' biggest fear coming into this year was whether or not lawmakers could work out a gambling deal that would allow the state to help fund a new stadium for their beloved Minnesota Vikings. Now, it appears other sports may be affected by the legislators.

A government shut down has been ordered as of July 1st, and it has workers in many industries concerned. One of those industries is horse racing, where Canterbury Park may have to shut down live racing and gambling.

The shut down at the tracks is a result of members of the Racing Commission being laid off. Workers of some government funded agencies kept their jobs, because they were pertinent to keeping the state running. It is not yet known whether the gambling industry falls under that umbrella.

"It is still very unclear where we might fall," said Canterbury Spokesman Jeff Maday, as reported by the Shakopee Valley News several weeks ago. "We are regulated by state, but the Racing Commission is fully funded by the industry."

On Saturday, Canterbury Park received their first message as to where they will fall. A judge ruled that the Minnesota Zoo can re-open after the shut down on Friday, but the same judge ruled that Canterbury Park must remain closed. The track had petitioned to be one of the essential state functions.

Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled against the petition, but did offer a glimpse into her frustration when she described how the judicial system was forced to make rulings on industries that help keep the government funded. The racing industry falls into that category.

According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, thousands of employees have lost their jobs at race tracks throughout Minnesota since the government shut down on Friday. Running Aces, a harness track in the state, laid off 600 workers before the shut down. Another 1,000 employees were laid off in Shakopee, where Canterbury is located..

The tracks had argued that because they helped fund the government budget through tax revenue paid from the gambling at their locations, they should have been allowed to continue operations. The July 4th holiday weekend is known to be one of the busiest weekends of the year at race tracks not only in Minnesota, but around the country.

The zoo will be permitted to re-open after Judge Gearin ruled that the zoo did not require a legislative appropriation. The zoo won its petition despite not being a core function of state government.

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