2013 Legislature adjourns without expanding gambling

28 May 2013

The Minnesota Legislature adjourned as required by law on May 20 without having passed any of the various gambling expansion bills introduced earlier in the session, according to MIGA Executive Director John McCarthy.

Among the proposals that went nowhere were bills to authorize  sports betting, a racino at Running Aces harness track, a casino at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and electronic lottery terminals in lottery outlets across the state.

MIGA tribes had been concerned that a shortfall in Vikings stadium funding might revive interest in various gambling expansion scenarios. Electronic pulltabs authorized in 2012 have failed thus far to produce the revenues needed to pay the state’s portion of the Vikings stadium bill, so state leaders have been scrambling to find additional revenue sources.

As the 2013 session drew to a close, Governor Dayton and legislators agreed on a plan to back up pulltab funding with a combination of new cigarette and corporate income taxes.

McCarthy praised the Governor and legislative leaders for resisting the temptation to rely on more gambling for stadium funding or other revenue needs. “Most Minnesotans believe we have enough gambling already,” he said. “Between the lottery, the horse tracks, the charities and tribal casinos, we have a very mature, well-saturated gaming market. There’s just not much room for expanding gambling any further without harming the existing venues.”

Even so, McCarthy said, it’s a safe bet that many of the same expansion proposals will be back in the 2014 session. “We have to fight this battle and win every year,” he concluded. “The expansion forces only have to win once.”