Mille Lacs Band responds to track shutdowns

On Wednesday (July 13), legislators from the Shakopee area held a news conference calling attention to the harm caused to employees of Canterbury Park and Running Aces by the state government shutdown. The tracks, which are regulated by state racing commissioners, have been closed since July 1 because they are not permitted to operate without regulatory oversight.

In response to the press conference, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe issued the following statement:

“Following the press conference held today by Shakopee area lawmakers, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe wishes to express compassion for the many people whose jobs depend on the operation of Canterbury Park and Running Aces. The temporary closure of those tracks is a regrettable by-product of the state government shutdown, and we take no joy in their problems.

>At the same time, the tracks’ temporary closure is completely separate from the issue of creating racinos at the tracks as an additional revenue source for state government. Racinos will merely shift existing jobs in rural Minnesota (where new job creation is extremely difficult) to the metro area. Racinos will create no net increase in economic development for Minnesota. And racinos will cause permanent damage to existing jobs and regional economies in many corners of the state.

The people connected to Canterbury Park and Running Aces do not deserve to have their livelihoods threatened by temporary government inaction. Similarly, the thousands of people and many communities throughout rural Minnesota whose livelihoods depend on tribal gaming should not be jeopardized by permanent government action.

The Mille Lacs Band hopes that Governor Dayton and the Legislature will resolve their differences soon and end the economic pain for the people employed by the tracks and others harmed by the shutdown. We also hope that they do not embrace racinos to solve a small piece of their budget differences, as that would only create deeper and more permanent pain in rural Minnesota.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, which owns Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley, estimates a loss of up to 40% in revenues should racino legislation pass. The Band’s two casinos directly employ approximately 3,000 people, of whom about 93% live in the rural Minnesota counties surrounding the casinos.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a self-governing, federally recognized Indian tribe located in East Central Minnesota. The Band has more than 4,000 enrolled members, for whom it provides a wide variety of programs and services.

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Andy Platto