Monday, March 14, 2005

Tribal gaming is satan's candy dish

The debate about gambling in general is as old as any argument. More recently, though, tribal (Indian) gambling has grabbed hold of the region. I used to live no more than five miles from Mystic Lake Casino Hotel which is officially in the Minnesota city of Prior lake, a Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities suburb.

The casino itself is owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. A small but wealthy tribe of native americans which reside on about one square mile of land which is surrounded and covered by McMansions which are all too common in the Twin Cities suburbs, particularly the wealthy Prior Lake/Credit River Township area.

The story about the employees of this casino empire are far different than that of the hundred or so native benefactors. The members of the tribe reportedly receive benefit checks between $36,000 and $50,000 every two weeks. Needless to say, drug and alcohol use among members of the tribe is extremely high.

The members of the tribe itself have little to do with the day to day operations of the casino other than reaping their entitlement check twice monthly. The employees are mainly caucasian or native americans who have been denied membership to the tribe due to its tight restrictions about bloodlines and such. The employees may make between $7 and $12 per hour which, in this area, is barely a living wage considering that the lowest apartment ent nearby is just over $600 per month for a one bedroom apartment.

The problem now is that Governor Tim Pawlenty wants to allow non-tribal gambling in designated areas of the state of minnesota. I feel that if the state were to forcibly renegotiate the gaming covenants with the richest tribes, needed money for schools and transportation could be had. Instead, the Governor is pushing for new gambling establishments tied in with new and/or existing entertainment venues by both Indian and non-Indians alike.

I feel that there are plenty of opportunities for naive senior-citizens and gambling addicts to wastefully spend money. I fthey are so eager to part with their funds, tax those who gamble if the profits of the existing casinos cannot be taxed. A 5% or 10% fee on each dollar spent seems fair enough. It makes more sense than opening more 24-hour gambling establishments and thereby increasing the addictions to gambling.

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