By T. D. Thornton
Both branches of the Minnesota Legislature have now passed a bill that aims to help Canterbury Park and Running Aces open spectator-free Thoroughbred and harness meets.
The chief change in the statute, if signed by the governor, will allow the two tracks to operate card clubs even if they race fewer than the required 50 dates per year in 2020 and 2021 if the racing commission deems there are “circumstances beyond the licensee’s control,” like the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives 97-34 on Friday and the Senate 65-2 on Sunday, also reduces the tracks’ portion of regulatory fees through the end of 2021.
The bill also includes language pertaining to “capital improvements and expense reimbursements specific to the operation of live racing.”
The original version of the bill contained a provision that would have allowed Minnesota residents to bet on in-state racing via phone or online advance-deposit wagering, but that language was removed before the initial hearing.
Canterbury plans a 52-day racing season starting June 10, pending approval from government, health, and racing commission officials.