Candidates air views on gambling expansion

13 October 2010

The three major candidates for Governor of Minnesota are making their views known on gambling expansion, and the news isn’t good for Minnesota tribes.

MIGA Executive Director John McCarthy said that Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, Republican nominee Tom Emmer, and DFL standard-bearer Mark Dayton are “only looking at the up-side” of opening state-sponsored casinos in Minnesota, without looking at the cost to Indian tribes and rural communities.

“Each of the candidates has a different message about expansion, but all three have indicated that they would consider, if not actively seek, legislative approval for a racino or a state-run casino in the metro area,” McCarthy said. “They’re looking for easy answers to the state’s budget crisis. Unfortunately, they’re not giving voters the whole story.”

MIGA tribes continue to oppose expansion on several grounds, McCarthy said, but the most significant is the potential impact on rural casinos and the communities that depend on them.

“When rural tribes sneeze, the surrounding counties catch pneumonia,” McCarthy said. “If the state approves slots at the harness track in Anoka County, the Mille Lacs Band could lose from 35 to 50 percent of its business. That could mean layoffs of anywhere from 600 to 1,300 employees. Can you imagine what that would do to the economy of the counties around those casinos?” The Mille Lacs Band’s tribal lands are located in Mille Lacs, Pine, Aitkin and Crow Wing counties.

Once the state opens the door to further expansion, it’s difficult to imagine where it will end, said McCarthy.

“It’s almost impossible to stop the spread of gambling once it starts,” he concluded. “States never cut back on gambling; they only add more and more.”

For information on how to get involved in the fight against gambling expansion, click on “Action Center” on the MIGA website.