Canterbury Park will resume casino, simulcast and live racing operations on Thursday, following the end to a 20-day state government shutdown which closed state regulatory agencies on July 1, causing all gaming operations at Canterbury to cease. A state budget was passed by the Minnesota legislature early this morning during a special session and signed by Gov. Dayton, allowing state agency employees to return to work as early as Thursday.
Canterbury Park’s casino will reopen at 10:00 AM Thursday; Simulcast racing operations at 11:00 AM and live racing will begin at 7:00 PM.
Business at Canterbury Park came to a halt July 1 with the state shutdown and subsequent closure of the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC), the state regulatory body that oversees gaming operations. More than 1,000 Canterbury employees have been on unpaid leave since that date. The MRC is fully-funded by the industry and receives no money from the general fund.
“We are relieved that this shutdown has come to an end. It has caused undue hardship for far too many,” Canterbury President Randy Sampson said. “I look forward to welcoming back our employees, loyal customers, and horsemen, who will once again be able to compete for purses.”
Racino legislation, which would have permitted slot machines at the state’s two race tracks, was not addressed in the special session.
“It is very disappointing that racino legislation was not part of this budget resolution,” Sampson said. “Racinos are proven job creators, proven revenue streams, and would also allow Minnesota’s racing industry, which already employees several thousand, to remain competitive and viable. We remain committed and will continue to work to see that racino legislation is passed for Minnesota.”
Studies have indicated that racinos would generate an estimated $125 million annually while creating thousands of jobs in the racing, hospitality, and equine industries. Polls have consistently shown that more than 70% of Minnesotans favor racino legislation. Twelve other states and more than 40 race tracks throughout North America have benefitted from similar legislation.