Charities still holding up Vikings stadium bill

Stop the presses! The Associated Press has breaking news about the Minnesota Vikings stadium bill:

Supporters of a new Vikings stadium have run into a new obstacle: Backlash from charitable gambling operators whose taxes are the hoped-for source to cover about one-third of the nearly $1 billion project.

Those charities are skeptical of promises of new profits from proposed electronic versions of a couple games, and angry at a tax bite many believe takes far too much of their profit.

Wow, you mean just like the charitable gambling operators told a state senate hearing two weeks ago? Who’da thunk it?

The AP story does at least explain why charities are looking for tax relief in exchange for approving the stadium bill: While most of their bingo fees and pulltab purchases get rolled back into prizes, they pay taxes based on gross receipts, not net. This means that some charities can end up paying more in taxes than they collect from gambling, so that even getting a cut of the new electronic pulltab gambling system the state wants to set up for the Vikings could leave some of them taking a loss.

Gov. Mark Dayton, though, insists that the stadium bill would be a win-win for everybody:

Authorizing the electronic forms of pull-tabs and bingo now played on paper would produce an expected $62.5 million in tax revenue for the state to use to pay off stadium bonds. But it would yield another $62.5 million per year for the charities, Dayton said.

Now, I haven’t dug into the numbers, but on the face of it this sounds patently absurd: By sticking electronic pulltab machines at bars statewide, Minnesota is going to generate an extra $125 million? Per year? And it’s not going to cost anybody a cent, because Minnesotans have $125 million a year they’ve been stashing under their mattresses and not spending on anything else, whether it’s other gambling options or, say, food?

In any case, it looks like nothing is going to happen with the Vikings bill until the charities are made happy, and it’s going to take a boatload of money to do that. Which means all the state legislature needs to do is to find a boatload of money. Er, isn’t this where I came in?

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3 comments on “Charities still holding up Vikings stadium bill

  1. Finding a boatload of money is always the problem in building a new stadium. There are basically two sources: The owners/NFL/sponsors, or the taxpayers. The goal is to extract the cash from the taxpayers, while making it look like it came from somewhere else.

    Legislators and other officials involved in this process fall into two camps: those who are in on the game, and those who are too dumb to know which game they are playing. Since the taxpayer has no friend in the game, the NFL wins.

  2. The NFL may be the winner, but this deal still involves renovations to TCF Bank Stadium to bring that stadium up to NFL code for one season. No doubt the Vikings will be forced to look for a new plan or they will be playing one season at Fargo, North Dakota.

    Note: A new plan could mean anything including TCF Bank Stadium getting its renovations and then the Vikings signing a 20 year lease to play football at that stadium.

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