Well, if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. That seems to be the concept behind a deal announced this week that will involve the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners of Mystic Lake Casino in Shakopee, agreeing to pay $75 million over 10 years to Canterbury Park, the horse track just four miles up the road. In return, Canterbury is dropping its long-running effort (at the State Capitol) to add slot machines, thus ensuring Mystic Lake's status as the casino in the metro area. Canterbury will put the $75 million to use boosting purses for horse races, helping make it more competitive with other Midwestern tracks.
The deal, seen in total, shows that the horse track and the casino are getting downright chummy. They plan to engage in joint marketing - with the tribe footing the $8.5 million bill - to attract visitors to both sites. Makes sense. Cooperate rather than fight.
When all is said and done, we can't help but note that these two entities have enjoyed some special privileges over the years. Mystic Lake doesn't face the competition it could because Minnesota still prohibits its citizens from opening casinos. Canterbury Park has lobbied for, and nearly won, the same kind of monopoly by almost convincing state lawmakers to use slot machine revenue at the track for various state purposes. The horse track also has been granted the right to simulcast races from around the country, and to have a large poker room that boosts its finances.
Call the pact between the two entities a conglomeration of special privileges.