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Will Minnesota lawmakers go after gambling revenue?

Minnesota's 18 Indian casinos bring in an estimated $15 billion a year. Part of this revenue could help finance a new Vikings stadium, but it's still unclear if the Governor and GOP leaders will consider expanding casino gambling to an off-reservation site. The Star Tribune reports tribal leaders and a battalion of lobbyists are preparing for a potentially fierce battle at the State Capitol.
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Minnesota's 18 Indian casinos bring in an estimated $15 billion a year. Part of this revenue could help finance a new Vikings stadium, but it's still unclear if the Governor and GOP leaders will consider expanding casino gambling to an off-reservation site. The Star Tribune reports tribal leaders and a battalion of lobbyists are preparing for a potentially fierce battle at the State Capitol.

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The mayor of Duluth tells the Star Tribune the city is in serious financial trouble after the federal government sided with the Fond du Lac band in a legal tussle over casino revenue. The newspaper says some of the proposals to expand gambling in Minnesota could put the state on a similar collision course with tribes, which fear state gambling would cut into revenue that they say has helped alleviate crushing poverty on reservations.

Lack of gambling inspections at Minnesota's Indian casinos

The largest casinos in the state are operating with little to no government oversight. The Star Tribune reports it has been at least four years since slot machines were inspected at Mystic Lake Casino in Shakopee, Grand Casino Hinckley and Grand Casino Mille Lacs. The Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement division of the DPS told the paper budget constraints have reduced the number of inspections by its three full-time agents. The executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association says all casinos in the state are also regulated by the tribal governments.

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Lawmakers now writing a bill to build a new home for the Vikings are looking into alternate funding sources in case revenue from gambling in bars fails to bring in the $398 million the state promises to contribute, according to the Associated Press.

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A plan to install electronic bingo and pull-tab machines in bars and restaurants is a popular suggestion when it comes to how the state could raise the money for a new Vikings stadium. But at least one expert says it would be a big gamble. The only revenue estimates we have are based on current sales, and no one can guess how customers will react to the new games.

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