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The head of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents most of Minnesota’s Indian tribes that operate casinos, is putting the brakes on those who think the election of Sen. David Senjem as Senate Majority Leader means that racino will win legislative approval.
Senjem, who was elected Senate majority leader on Tuesday, has in the past sponsored racino proposals to put slot machines at the state’s horse racing tracks. After his selection Senjem, R-Rochester, talked optimistically of passing racino in 2012 at the state Capitol, and possibly using it to help fund a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which opposes racino, said his internal counts still show the Senate short of the necessary votes needed to pass a racino plan next year that would compete with Indian casinos.
Racino supporters, he said Friday, “are high-fiving and bragging about how they got [Senjem] elected – I seriously doubt that.”
McCarthy said the Senate Republicans, who control the state Senate, remain divided on the issue. He said three of the four assistant majority leaders also selected Tuesday – Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, and Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes – “are not huge proponents” of expanding gambling to increase state revenues.
Racino supporters, said McCarthy, now talk “like [Senjem’s election] is going to be the game changer. Well, if you remember, when the Republicans took over the majority of both houses [last year], that was a game changer.”
They claimed, “ ‘Oh, that’s it. Day’s done. You Indian tribes are out of it.’
“Well, here we are after the session,” said McCarthy. “We weren’t out of it.”