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Reaction to White Earth Tribe Stadium Proposal

February 17, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Opponents of a proposal for a Twin Cities casino to help fund a new Minnesota Vikings stadium predict within a couple years, it'll be an economic drag on the state rather than a contributor.

Brian Rusche, executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, says that's because gambling can lead to social ills that bring related costs, from family violence to divorce, to embezzling from employers.

"Then, there's a certain set of criminal activity that trends to gravitate to casinos: drug trafficking, prostitution, petty thievery. You see a lot of desperation grow up around the area, in the form of pawn shops and check cashing windows, and that sort of thing."

Rusche says if a deal is reached to open a casino in - say, downtown Minneapolis - it could open the floodgates across the state.

"Where would it stop? What would the next agreement be? Does downtown Worthington want to strike a deal with another tribe? Does downtown Brainerd want to come to terms with a tribe? This is a very dangerous precedent."

He also notes that studies show half of the money that flows through casinos comes from problem gamblers, which he says proves that any new or expanded gaming is a bad solution.

"To go to gambling to foist the costs onto one segment of the population that actually has an addiction to it – it just doesn't pass the humane test."

If the state decides a new Vikings stadium is needed, says Rusche, there are other ways to pay for it, including user fees or taxes on sports-related merchandise.

The latest proposal comes from the White Earth Tribe of Northwestern Minnesota, which wants to open a metro-area casino and split the take 50/50 with the state. The tribe estimates the profit would be at least $300 million a year.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN