Dick Day wants slot machines at horse racing tracks, dagnabbit, and he wants them now.
The former state senator--who turned some heads a few months back by simultaneously announcing a) his resignation, and b) his new gig heading a pro-gambling lobbyist group, a move that almost comically embodied the cozy relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers--is taking his message to the people.
Day ventured to southern Minnesota this week to tout the wisdom of , which he says will generate $125 million yearly for the state. (Full disclosure: He arrived at that figure based on a study conducted by the Minnesota Lottery, which, if you'll excuse the groaner, has a horse in the race when it comes to state gambling policy).
A month ago, the measure seemed like a long shot. Now Day sounds cautiously optimistic when asked to assess the bill's chances.
"We're still probably 50-50," he tells the Mankato Free Press, citing the power of Indian casino lobbyists and political contributions. "But we're moving the ball ahead as far as legislators starting to agree with us. The state's looking for money. Here it is."
In interviews past, Day has trumpeted slot machines as the answer to the Vikings' stadium quandary. Looking to broaden the measure's appeal, Day and his colleagues at Racino have now widened their list of potential beneficiaries. These would include:
-- Agriculture and rural development, including livestock and biofuel development grants and business/job development.[Semi-relevant self-plug: we profiled both Day and Knapp as part of 'Ten Most Influential Lobbyists' a couple months back. Read it here.]
-- early childhood and family education.
-- bioscience and medical technology research and development of related businesses.
-- general fund expenditures.
-- athletic, recreational and extracurricular facilities.