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Tribe Puts Spin On Possible Minnesota Casino Expansion

The Minnesota Vikings need a new stadium if they are going to stay in Minnesota. For the past couple of years, lawmakers have been searching for ways to help the Vikings fund their new stadium, and the most popular option in recent months has been to authorize a new casino in which a portion of the revenue goes towards the stadium funding.

The first attempt at passing a bill that would authorize the casino has failed in the state, and now alternative proposals are coming to the forefront. For the White Earth Tribe, the fact that the Vikings are endeared to the hearts of Minnesotans allows for an opportunity to push the tribe's own agenda.

The White Earth Tribe is proposing a casino in Minnesota that would, in their estimation, bring in $300 million in profit annually. The tribe is proposing an even split of the profits, something that state lawmakers may find intriguing, not only in the short term for the stadium, but in the long run as well.

White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor acknowledges that the battle will be uphill to bring a casino to the reservation. Lawmakers have already discussed a similar proposal seven years ago that was defeated. Since then, no other proposal involving the White Earth Tribe has come up for a vote.

Opponents of a new casino in Minnesota lined up late last year in an effort to keep the current gambling structure in place. Several Minnesota tribes own casinos in the state, and they have been vehemently opposed to supporting any future expansion of the gaming industry. According to the tribe's, adding another casino would not create more revenue, it would simply spread out the existing gambling dollars.

The time frame for the state to expand and fund a Vikings stadium is beginning to tick. The teams lease at the Metrodome has expired, and without a new stadium, it is a strong possibility this year will be the last for the Vikings in Minnesota. Relocation has always been an option for NFL owners, and Los Angeles is actively seeking a franchise.

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