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Minnesota Lawmakers Revive Gambling For NFL Stadium Bill

Minnesota lawmakers have been contemplating for the early part of the year whether or not to create a bill that would allow gambling tax revenue to help fund a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. That plan appeared dead earlier this week, but just as a great comeback in the NFL can happen from week to week, so can a revival in the Legislature.

By late Friday, talks had resumed surrounding the gambling tax money for a stadium deal, and Governor Mark Dayton believed late in the afternoon that a bill could be forthcoming that would help keep the Vikings in Minnesota. The team had been rumored to be checking out relocation possibilities over the past year.

Other lawmakers also proclaimed the gambling bill alive, with some even suggesting that the bill could move quickly through the Legislature once it is proposed. The new plan is for the stadium to be funded with some form of gambling expansion. The public will get to weigh in on the issue in a series of forums, and then lawmakers will vote on the bill sometime either later this year or in early 2012.

The Vikings have been dealing with sagging attendance as the team has been in flux for a couple of years. The Metrodome is one of the most legendary stadiums in the US, but the wear and tear has taken its toll on the facility, and the Vikings no longer see it as a long term option. Many teams have generated billions of dollars in revenue stream by building new stadiums.

Opponents of using gambling tax revenue believe that lawmakers would be sending a bad message to their residents if they approved a bill allowing gambling to pay for the stadium. The battle lines have been drawn on the issue, and legislators and community leaders are digging their feet in the sand.

"For the state to pay for a new Vikings stadium with predatory gambling dollars means the state will be preying on the citizens its supposed to be protecting," said Tom Prichard, Executive Director of the Minnesota Family Council.

Minnesota has not expanded gambling at the same rapid rate as other states over the past few years. Gambling expansion has been one issue where lawmakers have been unable to see eye to eye on. Pro-gambling legislators believe they are getting close to having enough support to push a gaming bill through.

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