About 1,500 protesters representing tribal casinos across the state of Minnesota gathered in Minneapolis yesterday to oppose legislation that would expand gaming to bars and taverns across the state as well as to two racetracks.  

The protesters were on hand to promote the interests of Minnesota’s 31 tribal casinos, which have a statewide economic impact of $2.75 billion and employ over 41,000 people directly and indirectly, according to the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.  

Curt Kalk, secretary/treasurer of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, which owns two central Minnesota casinos, told the Associated Press that expanded gaming in the state would be a zero-sum game.  

“What we would see would be simply a massive transfer of jobs and economic activity away from communities around casinos,” Kalk said. He estimates that the Mille Lacs Band could lose up to 40 percent of its business if the nearby Running Aces horse-racing track in Columbus were allowed to have slot machines.  

Less than a month remains in the current legislative session. Gov. Mark Dayton has expressed support for racino portion of the bill and the revenues it would create for early childhood education, while calling alcohol and gambling “a bad combination.”