Racino: just another house of cards

The supporters of a “racino” — a casino at Canterbury Downs — are getting heavily involved in local politics, paying big money for ads telling us how to vote.
While I thank them for their money, which helps pay my salary, I can’t agree with their agenda.
Here are three reasons why I oppose a racino:
1.) It’s bad for business. As soon as a racino is built, outstate casinos will see losses in business, and regions like ours will see losses in jobs. There’s only so much gambling money to go around, because there are only so many people who like to flush their money down the toilet. The more casinos there are in Minnesota, the fewer dollars each casino will make.
This is just another example of city folks sticking it to Greater Minnesota, and you should think twice about voting for anyone who wants to take our money and jobs and send them to the Cities.
2.) It’s bad for the neighbors. The only reason this is an issue is because white people are salivating over the money Indian tribes are making. Everything the Indians have, white folks take. They had the land; we took it. They had the trees; we took them. They have half the fish; we want all the fish. They have casinos; we want casinos. It’s embarrassing.
You’ll hear people say that “we gave” Indians the right to operate casinos. We didn’t. The federal government recognized Indians’ inherent (limited) sovereignty (guaranteed by the laws of the land), and the Indians exercised their (limited) sovereignty by opening casinos, thinking it would improve the lives of their members. (The jury’s out on that — see #3.)
We’re sovereign, too, and we have the same right to exercise our sovereignty by legalizing gambling for everyone. Eventually it will probably happen because the people of Minnesota are too greedy to let the Indians have all the gambling money.
3.) It’s bad for families. In my family and my church, gambling was considered a vice. A government or community that pays its bills with gambling revenue is preying on the poorest, the dumbest, the most desperate and the most vulnerable.
That’s why I voted against the state lottery back in the 1980s. Gambling is an indirect way of taxing the poor, because the poor are more likely to gamble. It appears to be a painless way of funding government, but it’s not. The social costs are enormous — addiction, crime, poverty, drugs, divorce, despair.
We’ve seen it locally. Yes, there’s more money and more opportunities for Band members, and many Indians and non-Indians have benefitted from casino jobs. But there’s also more gangs, more drugs, more crime, more violence, and more dependence on government than back in the pre-casino days.
Now we want more gambling in Minnesota?
Neither party can be trusted on this issue: The Democrats act like they support the tribal casino monopoly out of principle, but in fact, the casinos and tribes have become their principal donors.
The Republicans — the self-ordained “family values” party — act like it’s all about fairness and cutting taxes, but they also want in on the spoils. The side benefit of taxing the poor isn’t half bad, either.
In my book, any Republican who supports expanded gambling can never again pretend to support “family values.”
The only one you can trust is the one who has nothing to gain, like your friendly neighborhood newspaper editor. Here it is, plain and simple: The wise man builds his house on a rock. A community built on gambling is a house of cards.

Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.

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