‘Mallino’ decision must be principled

Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace is exploring the possibility of opening a casino in the Mall of America. Whether the mall would benefit from a casino is an issue that can only be debated if politicians first decide to lift state restrictions on gambling or allow for an exception at the mall. If legislators do take up the issue, they should do it for principle-based reasons, not for the ones some gave in a failed attempt last session to pass the “Racino” bill.

State Senate Minority Leader Dick Day (R-Owatonna) was a major proponent of the “Racino” bill, which would have allowed for more video slot machines at Canterbury Park. Day and others reasoned that slot machine tax revenue would help close the budget deficit.

While it would be nice to raise state revenue, it would not be right to change gambling laws for that reason. The principles behind the state’s gambling restrictions do not change based on how the economy is doing. They should not be sacrificed to help the state or one business over another. If we were to

follow the tax revenue reasons for the Racino bill, given by some of the bill’s supporters, Minnesota would be legalizing prostitution and illegal drugs. The tax money would surely close the state’s deficit.

There are valid arguments for state restriction of gambling. The primary is that gambling is destructive to individuals and society and that the state shouldn’t benefit from that.

Another is that if the state allows casinos, it will harm some American Indian reservations’ major revenue stream, which some argue is their sole right to have.

If there is any attempt to change state gambling laws, legislators must answer these genuine concerns and attempt changes only because of a change in philosophy, such as the belief that it is not their right to tell people what to do with their own money. The restrictions should not be lifted because politicians want to raise state revenue, nor should they be lifted in such a way that would privilege only certain businesses that might have lobbying power