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Friday, October 22, 2004

Indian gaming nonsense

So now Governor Pawlenty wants the tribes to pony up $350 million a year for the privilege of being the only ones allowed to have casinos. I have no idea where this number comes from; it has every appearance of being pulled from his nether regions. Without access to any financial information, it is impossible to know if this number is even realistic.

Poor Pawlenty, hemmed in by his "no new taxes" pledge. State-funded services have already been cut back so severely that even Republicans are grumbling, and it is clear that vowing to cut even more isn't a winner this year. Nevertheless, the governor still has to kowtow to the Minnesota Taxpayers League, which puts him in a bind: where do you find money without raising taxes? Nickel-and-dime fees, which he has already raised, can only go so far, so he has obviously decided to go after an alleged pot of gold he thinks is ripe for the taking: casino money.

He's going to fail, though. The compacts have no expiration date and can only be renegotiated if both sides want it. Why would the casinos voluntarily give up $350 million a year? Threats to open up a competing state-run casino aren't very realistic, so Pawlenty's got The Hammer while the casinos are holding Rockets. Good luck with that.

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