Minn. Senate committee kills racetrack casino plan

A bill to legalize slot machines at Minnesota's two horse tracks failed in a Senate committee this Monday afternoon.

The State Government Innovation and Veterans committee voted 8-5 against the racino bill.

Even a last-minute change that would have dedicated the proceeds to potentially tens of thousands of college scholarships did not sway legislators.

Bill sponsor Republican Majority Leader David Senjem said he was disappointed the bill didn't pass, but said there was progress.

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"I don't think we've ever had a full-blown hearing. This was a full-blown hearing with a vote," Senjem said. "We kind of tested the water and found out where the rocks are."

The vote may mark the end of racino prospects for this year. Opponents on both sides of the political aisle said they were wary of opening the door to new gambling.

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, who voted against the bill, said he was reluctant to open the door to more gambling.

"For me personally, I thought it was an expansion of gambling. I think it's not in the best interests of the state to expand farther," he said. "They talked about two places initially, but there were people on the range that said they wanted it. There were other testifiers saying we want to have a lot of these. And in the end, I just don't think that serves the state best."