Gambling out of the red

Expanded gambling should be used to generate revenue for Minnesota.

The Editorial Board

In the last month, politically divided Minnesota has seen gubernatorial candidates, state legislators and small business owners agree that Minnesota’s current gambling law requires changing.
Both Democrat Mark Dayton and Independent Tom Horner support expanded gambling opportunities that would help fill the state’s $5.8 billion budget deficit. The former proposed a new casino be established at the Mall of America or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, while the latter wants slot machines installed at the state’s two horse tracks.
Republican Tom Emmer, who cosponsored a racino bill while he was in the Legislature, says he doesn’t see expanded gambling as part of the solution to Minnesota’s budget crisis, but he said he might consider it as a way to grow the state’s overall economy.
Tuesday, Profit Minnesota — a special interest group composed of bar and restaurant owners, charities and citizens — kicked off a campaign that’s goal is to permit the installation of video lottery terminals, electronic pull tabs and bingo in Minnesota bars and restaurants. This would not only help solve the state’s budget deficit but would also help to boost the state’s lagging hospitality industry, which employs over 200,000 Minnesotans, and bring in $629 million in revenue to help fix the budget deficit.
The number and variety of proposals show that expanded gambling is an attractive way to plug the gaping hole in the state budget. Not only will it generate more review for the state, it will do so in a way that requires no tax increase and helps keep struggling bars and restaurants afloat during tough economic times.