8 thoughts on ““No Cost to Anybody.” At Least, Anybody Like Dick

  1. Fran says:

    Is this a serious article? Canterbury Park is located right next to Mystic Lake Casino. The members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community each receive $38,000 every two weeks in casino profits — profits, which are not taxed by the state. A Racino at Canterbury Park will NOT hurt those tribal members.

    You’re right that the poverty rate among the state’s indians is greater than just about any other community in the state. That’s because out of the 40,000 or so indians, only a couple thousand actually receive income from casinos. If you’ve ever been to Red Lake or White Earth, and I know Dick Day has, those members are as impoverished as they were 50 years ago.

    Minnesota is in dire straits for money. Nobody is saying to tax the tribes or take away their casinos. This is about having a level playing field that will provide a benefit to the state as a whole and not just a few hundred people.

  2. bruce benidt says:

    Fran, thanks for chiming in. I am making, apparently not too clearly, a larger point. As soon as Indian people have something, we want to take it away — that’s history speaking. There is now an economic development tool that is working for Indian people. It’s not a panacea, but it’s a start, a catalyst. And since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, forces of the majority culture, from Donald Trump to Dick Day, have wanted to get their hands on the one thing that is working for some Indian people.

    And too many of us, in the majority, like Dick Day, don’t even see the Indian people as people who need to be considered. The majority culture never has. That’s my main point.

    Secondly, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota tribe is doing well. And as they’ve done well, they help the majority community and other tribes with their philanthropy. Most tribes, as you mention, get little if any revenue from casinos, and are poor. So why would we hurt the economic engine that is helping some tribes help other tribes?

    And, you mention how wealthy the Shakopee tribal members are. Does that disqualify them from anything? What about those tribes of wealthy white people out on Lake Minnetonka or in North Oaks? Because they’re wealthy, does that mean we shouldn’t recognize the contribution to society they make with their philanthropy? When we whites talk about the money the Shakopee tribal members have, the tone is that there’s something wrong with it. At the same time, we admire and put on magazine covers wealthy white people and the fancy homes they build and the boards they serve on and the philanthropy they practice. We simply see majority people differently than we see Indian people. I don’t know if that’s true of you, Fran, I don’t know you. I do know that the behavior of the majority society and media toward Indian people demonstrates that we see Indian people differently. If we see them at all.

    Finally — How level has the playing field been for Indian people?

    After a federal policy of extermination, after hundreds of broken treaties, after we’ve pushed Indian people onto the worst land in their homeland — now, now, NOW the majority asks for a level playing field? Really?

  3. Fran says:

    Thanks for the reply. Nobody is talking about taking anything away from the tribes. They negotiated a compact which gives them tax-free gaming into perpetuity. But that compact does NOT give them the exclusive right to gaming.

    And you’re right that Mystic Lake members do give money to the other tribes. But that money is a pittance compared to the amount of wealth in the tribe and that money does not go toward helping individuals but rather is primarily loan dollars to build casinos on other reservations. The Red Lake and White Earth tribes, as Dick Day can tell you, are as impoverished as they were 50 years ago. I don’t see Mystic Lake helping to change that.

    Nobody says the tribes shouldn’t make money from their casinos. And nobody is saying the state should tax or regulate what they do. But 80 percent of Minnesotans support giving the tribes some competition that benefits all of Minnesota and not just a handful of individuals.

    P.S. You’re dead wrong that Dick Day doesn’t see Indian people as people to be considered. If you’ve read anything about the history of racinos, you would know that Sen. Day has put money for indians not on reservations in his past racino bills.

    1. PM says:


      There is a huge logical inconsistency in your argument.

      “But that compact does NOT give them the exclusive right to gaming.”

      The point is that taking away that exclusive right to gaming is indeed taking something of great economic value away from the tribes. Creating competition for gaming will indeed reduce the income from gaming that goes to the tribes. That would be taking something of great value away from them.

      Do you deny this?

  4. Fran says:

    Las Vegas is the destination that it is because there are multiple casinos in close proximity to the benefit of all. A racino at Canterbury Park will not hurt Mystic Lake. Mystic Lake has a leg up in the competition from day one because they don’t pay any income taxes, corporate taxes or property taxes. Also, the tribes get to keep some 80% of the hotel, liquor, cigarette, sales and gasoline taxes they collect from customers. A racino at Canterbury Park pays all of the taxes that Mystic Lake does not.

    As I stated, the tribes do not have the exclusive right to gaming. If they had that right and the state was going back on it, then I’d say you were 100% accurate that we would be taking something of great economic value to the tribes. But that isn’t the case. You can’t take away a right that does not exist.

    1. PM says:

      You keep bringing up rights, and that is a red herring, not germane to the discussion. The racino would result in lost revenue to the tribes due to competition (the idea of Las Vegas in Minnesota is silly–we will not become an international gambling destination by opening up a racino!).

      So we are indeed taking something of real economic value from them, and what we are taking from them has nothing at all to do with rights.

      But it does have to do with right and wrong, with honor and fairness. I think that the racino proposal fails dramaticall y by those yardsticks, and your argument seems to amount to saying “tough luck–we do it because we can”.

  5. Fran says:


    What other businesses have the right to a monopoly in Minnesota? If you don’t think Minnesota is already Las Vegas, you’re sadly mistaken. Mystic Lake already has more slot machines than any casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. And our state has 18 casinos, not shabby for being dislike Las Vegas, if you ask me.

    You keep bringing up an emotional sympathy for the tribes. But you ignore the fact that only a few thousand tribal members actually receive money from tribal casinos out of some 60,000 American indians in the state. The rest receive nothing, except maybe a little charity from their wealthy brothers. You also ignore the fact that the casinos will be able to compete just fine because they pay no taxes. The day Canterbury Park gets a racino they will have to pay all of the taxes the tribes don’t pay. In other words, the tribes will have a leg up in the competition.

    Finally, you ignore the real reason the tribes have a billion dollar monopoly today. That reason is that they spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaigns and because they are sovereign nations, they are able to do it in a way that no other business in the state is allowed: they can take the money right out of the casinos and give it to politicians. And those politicians happen to be your brothers and sisters in the DFL.

  6. “If the state gets into the gambling business, it will take revenue away from Indians.”

    Is gambling revenue a zero-sum game?

    And is having a racino inject more competition into the gambling sector much different than a public option injecting competition into the health care sector? One is cool and the other’s not?

    I’m not suggesting Day’s “no cost to anybody” line is accurate — clearly, someone’s paycheck ain’t makin’ it to the bank. I am suggesting, however, this particular argument against the racino isn’t a particularly compelling one. 🙂

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