Mark Dayton, the governor of Minnesota, on Friday signed a bill for expansion of poker rooms at Canterbury Park and Running Aces Harness Park, which happen to be two major race tracks in Minnesota.
The recently signed bill had been proposed for long as a solution for the battle between the two race tracks, which had been attempting to provide casino gaming services, including poker, slot machine games, and table games, in addition to horse betting. The native tribes had protested against this fiercely as such an expansion would mean stiff competition and loss of customers for them.
The bill was passed by the Minnesota Senate last Saturday, and now that it has been signed by the governor, all disputing parties appear to have benefited. The horse racing tracks can expand their poker offering by adding some more tables, which will enable them to run poker tournaments. Besides, they can also offer high stakes poker and a wide range of other table games. Meanwhile, casinos belonging to the native tribes can offer horse betting and off track betting (OTB) services.
CEO and President of Canterbury Park Randy Sampson said, “Initially, we will increase the number of tables hosting live play from 50 to 60, the card room’s current capacity, to accommodate our customers during peak periods. Additional expansion, higher betting limits and expanded poker tournaments will be implemented based on market demand.”
The latest developments, however, are not aimed at increasing the popularity of poker, but to use the existing popularity of poker, blackjack, and other casino games to increase horse racing revenue for the state. The increase in revenue will allow Running Aces Harness Park and Canterbury Park to offer larger prizes to the winners of live races, drawing larger crowds to their racing events and further increasing state revenue.
Sampson said, “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, 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.”
Although it looks as if the passing of this law is more in the interests of the state than in the interest of poker players, it definitely proves that poker has the power to generate the required revenue for the state.