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?