The Minnesota Vikings stadium bill is set to be introduced into the state legislature today, and it turns out that — whoops! — nobody bothered to see whether state gambling interests were okay with its expansion of “pulltab” gambling to fund a stadium. And despite a last-second move by Gov. Mark Dayton to peel off $10 million a year from the pulltab revenues and use it for tax breaks for charitable gambling, they’re still pretty cheesed off about the whole thing:
A spokesman for Allied Charities of Minnesota said after the governor’s news conference that leaders of the charitable gambling industry did not know about the briefing and said there was no agreement with the Dayton administration on whether the revenue estimates were accurate or how the new revenues should be divided.
“We have no deal,” said Ray Bohn, a spokesman. “We’re pretty offended.”
Bohn said Dayton administration officials had begun meeting with charitable gaming officials just three days before, and that discussions had been expected to spill into the weekend. “It’s very weird,” Bohn said. “I’ve never been treated like this before.”
While the Star Tribune article on this doesn’t come out and say it, presumably one concern of Allied Charities — which is basically an organization of charities that fundraise via pulltabs, with a small sideline in bingo — is that Vikings pulltabs will cut into their customer base, causing them to lose money. There’s also the small matter that no one is exactly sure how much money Vikings pulltabs will raise — Dayton guesses $62.5 million a year, but it’s estimated that as much as $80 million a year could be needed to finance VIkings bonds, since gambling revenue is considered a riskier revenue source. “If the electronic pulltabs just [don’t] work,” understated state senate majority leader David Senjem last Friday, “why, then, no one can probably vote for it.”
Dayton, for his part, tried to put a glass-half-full spin on things by saying that the Vikings bill has a “50/50” chance of passage, though by this he apprently just means that it could either win or lose. (His exact words: “You know, it’s there to be gained, and it’s there to be lost.”) And then there’s that whole Minneapolis city charter requirement that stadium spending requires a referendum (which could end up in court if Dayton insists on abrogating it), plus the majority of the Minneapolis city council that says it won’t move ahead without a referendum.
Add it all up, and the chances of a Vikings stadium bill passing anytime soon are … well, 50/50, but only if you allow that some 50s are more equal than others.