ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Senate on Sunday evening, May 17, passed a bill meant to give breathing room to horse racing tracks in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

Running Aces and Canterbury Park will temporarily get a break on some regulatory fees under the bill, and can hold fewer race days than would normally be required in order to operate their licenses. Industry officials previously told lawmakers that they expect the pandemic and resulting economic downturn to affect their bottom line.

They had sought to hold fewer race days given that attendance during the upcoming racing season is expected to be low to non-existent. A provision that would have temporarily allowed for online and phone-based betting on Minnesota horse races, though, was left out of the bill approved 65-2 in the Senate on Sunday. Minnesotans can still bet remotely on out-of-state races.

The Minnesota House of Representatives approved the bill late last week 97-34.

The race tracks will be granted further flexibility under the bill, which temporarily allows them to put more purse money toward capital improvement projects and collect more fees from remote betting systems.