Monday, March 11, 2013


As expected, there is no shortage of gambling expansion proposals awaiting consideration by the 2013 Minnesota Legislature.

House File 522, authored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis, would authorize sports betting on professional and collegiate sports and athletic events in Minnesota. The bill has been referred to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee. Rep. Kahn has introduced similar bills in the past without success.

Rep. Kahn also has introduced HF 989, which would allow slot machines at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Similar proposals have been defeated in previous years. 
Of greater concern is HF 988, a bill to authorize racinos at Minnesota racetracks. Since Canterbury Park is not seeking a racino due to its marketing agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the only racetrack eligible for slot machines under the bill is Running Aces Harness Track, located in Columbus Township on the northern edge of the Twin Cities metro area. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tom Hackbarth, who has authored previous racino bills.

Previous racino discussions had been centered around Canterbury Park, the state's only thoroughbred racetrack, but in 2012 Canterbury officials abandoned efforts to secure a racino after signing a joint marketing agreement with Mystic Lake Casino to increase purses and pursue cooperative marketing efforts.

So far, none of the gambling expansion proposals seem to be generating broad support, but MIGA is following them closely. Minnesota has enough gambling already, and MIGA tribes will continue to oppose further expansion.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will announce the purchase of two major hotels in St. Paul at a press conference tomorrow (March 11) at 9:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront Hotel. The hotels, the 470-room Crowne Plaza on Kellogg Boulevard, and the 250-room Doubletree Hilton in the heart of downtown St. Paul, represent nearly half of St. Paul's current lodging inventory.

The acquisitions are the first in a series of planned investments by the Mille Lacs Band Corporate Commission as part of the economic development vision articulated by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin in her 2013 State of the Band address. 

Benjamin has emphasized the importance of diversifying into non-gaming projects that will help move the Band toward greater economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Mille Lacs Commissioner of Corporate Affairs Joseph Nayquonabe, Jr. will anchor the press conference, discussing the business goals of the venture, planned improvements for the hotels, as well as what the Band's ownership will mean for the City of St. Paul. 
St. Paul Chamber President Matt Kramer told Kare-11 News on March 8 that the Band's acquisition of the hotels is "a fantastic thing for St. Paul." He cited the Band's twenty years of experience in the hospitality industry, and its commitment to refurbishing the properties to maximize their value as cornerstones of the core downtown.

Other dignitaries scheduled to attend the press conference include Chief Executive Benjamin, Ben Graves of Graves Hospitality, Inc., Deputy St. Paul Mayor Paul Williams; and Matt Kramer, President of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.