10/09/2002 11:00PM

Canterbury lobbies for slots


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Canterbury Park on Thursday announced its intention to add slot machine gambling to its current menu of live racing, simulcasting, and card club wagering. A constitutional amendment or legislation is needed to allow slot machines at Canterbury.

Canterbury's proposed "Racino" includes the development of its existing 367-acre property into a multipurpose gambling and entertainment facility that would include slot machine and video gambling, an Olympic-styled equestrian park, an agricultural exposition facility, and a hotel and conference center.

This is the second attempt to secure slot machine gambling at Canterbury since its current ownership reopened the track in 1995. Legislation that would have allowed slot machines at the racetrack in order to fund a new outdoor sports stadium was introduced in the Minnesota legislative session in 1997 but that proposal met opposition from Native American gambling interests in the state and was narrowly defeated.

The state of Minnesota faces a significant budget deficit in the legislative session that begins in January and the track's slot proposal would send casino revenues to the state's general fund, which might make the current proposal attractive to state lawmakers. Citing a study written for Canterbury, track officials predicted the proposed development would generate $55 million in gambling taxes for the state's revenue fund in the first year of operation and would also increase the track's current purse structure by $8 million.