Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, said last week that he’s been resuscitating plans to fund a new Vikings stadium with a plan that would allow slot machines at the state’s two horse tracks. And now he says he’s got the paperwork to prove it works.
Hackbarth asked the state to release a fiscal note on his so-called Racino bill, outlining how much money the state might net if it authorized trackside slots. The answer? A lot.
“It’s $137 million a year, that we have to spend, and we can pay not only the state’s portion, the $300 million, but you can also assume that we can pay the $350 million that Ramsey County was going to be on the hook for,” Hackbarth says. “We can do the $650 (million) out of this…And then you’ve got money left over.”
Hackbarth suggested the Racino legislation would provide $27 million for a new St. Paul Saints stadium and will allow lawmakers to pay back a portion of the K12 school shift used to balance the state’s budget.
Here’s the paperwork itself — be warned it’s about 30 pages long. Hackbarth says the operative number is on the first page — listed in the FY15 column in the “New Fund” row. Hackbarth says would be the Vikings stadium fund.
As far as we know, this is the note’s public debut. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association’s executive director, John McCarthy, says he’s heard about the note, but hadn’t seen it yet.
McCarthy says, however, that he’s seen state-sanctioned gaming notes before:
“People actually involved in the gambling industry see things a little differently,” he says. “I don’t know that they’re taking into account competition or other factors…”
The bottom line, McCarthy says, is that Racino won’t be what state officials are hoping for.
One problem for Racino backers is how many votes the plan would garner from Democrats. DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said his caucus isn’t inclined to support any expansion of gambling. He said fewer than five Senate Democrats would be likely to support a Racino bill or a bill that would build a casino in downtown Minneapolis.
MPR’s Tom Scheck contributed to this report.