Horse racing bill goes to Dayton


The House again passed a bill that would make changes to the horse racing industry in Minnesota, this time with significant changes to the original language. The latest version would seek to increase the purses offered to winners at Running Aces Harness Park and Canterbury Park by increasing the number of gambling tables at these race tracks and casinos throughout the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan), HF2795SF1727* would expand the number of tables from 50 to 80 and allow banked and unbanked games at the establishments.

“This will help both the non-horse track casinos and the horse track casinos,” said Hoppe.

The House adopted amendments made by the Senate and re-passed the bill. Following the 97-34 vote, the bill now goes to the governor.

The bill also includes its earlier language that would remove statutory restrictions on the concentrations of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs administered to horses, instead allowing the Minnesota Racing Commission to set those standards.

The bill faced resistance from some lawmakers, who expressed frustration that this added language did not pass through House committees before it was heard on the floor.

“It matters to me that the public has not had any opportunity to weigh in on this. Do I know whether people in my district want this change? No, I don’t. Do you? I doubt that very much,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (R-Rochester).

Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls) worried that the increase in purse amounts could lead to horse trainers taking risks to win. While acknowledging that trainers care for their horses, she said, “This is the direction that leads to problems.”

Other lawmakers claimed that the bill could stimulate job growth in the horse racing industry, calling for fewer regulations.