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Published May 08, 2011, 06:18 PM

Poll Finds MN Residents Want More Gambling Options

Many Minnesota residents want more gambling options, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll that found 72 percent of adults surveyed say they favor an end to American Indian tribes having a monopoly on casino-style gambling in the state.

By: Associated Pess,

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Many Minnesota residents want more gambling options, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll that found 72 percent of adults surveyed say they favor an end to American Indian tribes having a monopoly on casino-style gambling in the state.

The Star Tribune reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/jtm0Nm ) the poll found 23 percent believe the tribes should continue to have exclusive rights to operate casino gambling facilities in Minnesota, while 5 percent didn't know or refused to answer.

Minnesota has 18 American Indian-run casinos around the state. Lawmakers are looking at proposals that would expand gambling to bars, race tracks and a downtown Minneapolis casino, with profits taxed as a way to bring in more money for state and local governments. By prior agreement with the state, tribal casinos pay no taxes.

"If it makes money for the state, that's great," said poll respondent Jerry Brockman of Hastings. "They've got to cut spending, but we have to hunker down here and come up with some new money."

Asked which type of gambling they prefer, 37 percent of respondents said that they want an all-fronts approach that includes video slots at bars, restaurants and race tracks and full-blown casinos in downtown Minneapolis and at the Mall of America.

Of those who want more gambling, 20 percent preferred video slots at Minnesota's two horse racing tracks, Running Aces and Canterbury Park, while another 12 percent favored a downtown casino. A megamall casino and slots in bars both ranked at 8 percent apiece.

The poll of 806 Minnesota residents, including landline and cellphone users, was conducted May 2-5 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

Rep. John Kriesel, sponsor of the Block E Minneapolis casino bill and co-sponsor of several other gambling proposals, said he's not surprised to see strong support for more and varied gambling.

"Minnesotans want choices, especially when it comes to their recreation — in this case, gambling," Kriesel told the Star Tribune.

John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, said people don't understand what casinos have meant to Indian economic development.

"A lot of people don't (see) the full impact of what tribal gaming has done for the economy in this state," he said. "And so they're misinformed. I guess that would be my bottom line."

Tribes have lobbied against all expanded gambling proposals, arguing that they would cost thousands of existing casino jobs. Some Minnesota residents agree.

"We've taken many things from the Indians, taken their lands and a lot of other things, so we shouldn't take this away from them," said Kia Misaianen, 22. "It's a little bit of a special benefit, true, but it seems like it's fair."

Support for expanded gambling was highest among poll respondents whose incomes were above $50,000 a year; more than 78 percent of them favored it. Age also played a role, with 81 percent of respondents ages 45-64 saying casino-style gambling should be opened to nontribal operators.

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