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Minnesota Gambling Increases; Still No Stadium Deal

The Minnesota Vikings are hoping that lawmakers in the state come through with some sort of gambling plan that would help fund a new stadium. Unfortunately for Minnesota fans, gambling expansion will be coming to the state, it just will not be to help the stadium financing.

Governor Mark Dayton signed bills into law on Friday that will allow tribal casinos to partner with the racing industry. What was left out of the bills, however, was any provisions that would allow the revenue from this joint venture to fund a new stadium for the Vikings.

The gambling bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Dayton will permit tribal casinos to offer gambling on race simulations. The racing facilities will also gain the right to add more poker tables and hold bigger tournaments, all leading to more tax revenue for the state.

"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, President and CEO of Canterbury Park.

One of the big changes to the current law will come at the poker tables, where gaming facilities will be allowed to increase wagering limits from $60 to $100. That stipulation was one of several that were ironed out between tribal casinos and the racing industry.

Over the past several years, tribal casinos have been battling over the idea of allowing slot machines at state race tracks. The racing industry insists that the only way to survive in today's economic climate is to offer the slot machines that are permitted in racinos around the country.

The bigger issue involving gambling will play out in the Legislature on Monday. A vote is scheduled to decide whether or not the nearly $1 billion stadium the Vikings are seeking will gain approval from lawmakers. The state would be on the hook for a large portion of the stadium funding, and Governor Dayton has proposed expanded gambling as a way to offset that cost.

Lawmakers have been cool to the idea of paying for the stadium, but with an election coming up in November, legislators also may be weary of voting against a plan that would keep the Vikings in Minnesota.

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