A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from the Grand Casino Mille Lacs near Garrison, Minnesota. Program highlights American Indian casinos; what some term as the “New Buffalo.” MPR’s Catherine Winter interviews Leonard Prescott, chairman of Little Six Inc.; Charlie Berg, state senator and chair of Minnesota Senate Gaming Regulation Committee; Bernita Churchill, elected legislative official for Mille Lacs Tribe; and Doug Twait, commission of public affairs for Chippewa Tribe. Group discusses benefits, concerns, and issues of gambling in Minnesota. Program also includes various other segments. MPR’s Mark Steil reports on how casinos came to be in the state. MPR’s Dan Olson joins a gambling group on a bus trip to Jackpot Junction. MPR’s Rachel Reabe interviews individuals in the Mille Lacs casino. MPR’s Leif Enger reports on outside firms managing casinos. MPR’s John Biewen reports on spreading benefits to Native Americans in the cities. This is part 1 of 2 in this special broadcast.
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(00:00:00) The casinos on Minnesota's Indian reservations are one of the most dramatic things to hit rural Minnesota in this Century casinos have transformed reservations and nearby towns bringing prosperity to some of the most impoverished places in the state, but they're also the focus of heated debate some minnesotans opposed gambling in any form While others want a piece of the pie that Indian tribes now have will spend the next two hours talking about casino gambling on Minnesota's Indian reservations will hear from members of the Indian tribes that run the casinos will join a group of gamblers on a bus trip to Jackpot Junction and we'll try to answer the question. Why has this happened in Minnesota? Today's broadcast will include a new Minnesota Public Radio documentary entitled the new Buffalo with me here at Grand Casino. Mille Lacs is Main Street radio reporter Rachel riebe. We're also pleased to have Leonard Prescott joining us from Washington DC Leonard Prescott is the chairman of little 6 Incorporated which runs the Mystic Lake Casino in Prior. Like he's also former chair of the national Indian gaming Association and former chairman of the Shakopee. Mdewakanton Dakota tribe Leonard Prescott is in Washington today for a meeting and joins us by satellite also with us this morning from st. Paul is state. Senator Charlie Berg of chikai. Oh Senator Burke chairs, the Minnesota Senate gaming regulation committee and joins us by satellite from our Saint Paul Studios. We're also pleased to have with us here at Grand Casino Bernita Churchill who is an elected official with the Mille Lacs tribal governments legislative branch and duct. Wait who's Commissioner of corporate Affairs for the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa glad to have you both here. Good morning. Good morning. We'll be talking with all of our guests shortly. But let's begin by taking a look at how casino gambling came to be in Minnesota, Minnesota. Indian casinos took an estimated 300 million dollars in last year more than in any other state one reason tribal casinos are doing so well is that minnesotans love to gamble but another reason is that it's unusual for state governments to work cooperatively with Indian tribes to the extent that Minnesota's tribes and state government have cooperated that cooperation helped Minnesota get a head start on the casino business Main Street radios, Mark style (00:02:09) reports during 1990 and part of 91. Minnesota was the only state offering widespread Indian casino gaming since then the number of casinos and other states has increased rapidly, but none have overcome Minnesota's early lead. The gambling boom was touched off by federal legislation in 1988, which allowed Casino gaming on reservations many tribes are on the country including Minnesota were operating high-stakes bingo. Al's at the time and we're eager to expand when Congress acted tribes began pushing for casinos, we had Thirty Thirty-One states with Indian reservations. And so it could have blossomed in any of these Bill Thompson is Professor of public administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. There was a window of opportunity with the with the Act and the Minnesota Indian step to the plate and they took a (00:02:56) swing and (00:02:58) there were given three swings at the plate. And by the time the third ball was pitched. They hit a home run the Minnesota tribes had studied the new law and as soon as it was signed, they were ready to begin the regulatory process which would lead to casinos Jody good Thunder is Chairman of the lower Sioux Indian Community near Morton in southwest Minnesota, home of the Jackpot Junction Casino. Good Thunder says when Congress passed the legislation Minnesota Indians felt a historic opportunity had arrived leaders knew that this is a great chance for for the tribes to become economically successful the longer we waited two more opportunities. We're going to be losing the federal legislation required the tribes and state government to negotiate gaming compacts spelling out how the casinos would operate the compact negotiations were a critical step leading to Minnesota's dominant role in tribal gaming the tribes approach state government leaders in early 1989 requesting the startup compact talks, which led first to video gaming and later to Blackjack state representative. Becky kelsall remembers, there was concern about expanding gambling, but also a feeling there was no choice (00:04:09) we accepted at the time that we could not avoid extending. Naming rights to Indian tribes that if we did not negotiate these compacts that certainly our tribes would take it to court and we would have it done in the federal courts rather than at the state level and it was our desire to keep it to keep it at the state level (00:04:33) Kelso and two others were appointed in July 1989 by then-governor Rudy perpich to negotiate compacts with the states tribes Indians were hoping for a quick conclusion to the talks. But Jody good Thunder remembers the job looked overwhelming 11 tribes each a Sovereign Nation negotiating separate deals with the state of Minnesota. He says the tribe solve the problem by agreeing to basically negotiate one compact which then would be used as the model for the individual State tribe agreements. He says it was a historic moment of unity for the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes in the state. Yes. It was one of the first times that all of the Levin's chives with in Minnesota got together in focus and one issue which was At for the better betterment of all tribes in the state of Minnesota the first Compact signed receive federal approval in March of 1990 and casino gambling was underway in Minnesota. The jump Minnesota Indians got on the rest of the nation can be seen in the number of compacts approve that year 13 were signed by the Secretary of the Interior 9 were for Minnesota tribes one each one to South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada and California Bill Thompson of UNLV Minnesota's the number one Indian gaming state in the in the nation. It happened there because the governor said hey, I'm not fighting it anymore. I think we governor also interpreted Indian gaming as a win-win game that it wins for the people of Minnesota. It wins for the Indian population. What initially took a few months in Minnesota has dragged on for years. In other parts of the country many states have refused to negotiate compacts with Indian tribes and officials on both sides of the question expected eventually will be decided by the Supreme Court one of Surface disputes is in Arizona where the state is trying to and Indian casino gaming Jan Morris tribal prosecutor for the Fort McDowell Mojave Apache Indian Community says the dispute their continues years of bad relations between Indians and state government proximately 1/4 of the land base of Arizona is Indian reservations. And so out of necessity the state has had to deal with the tribes, but I don't believe that they've always done so fairly and openly and it's I still don't believe that that's being done today. And I think there's gaming issue is a prime example of that in Wisconsin. The future of Indian casinos is now in doubt after voters decided to limit what sorts of gaming will be legal in Michigan Indians began working on Casino gaming as soon as the Minnesota tribes, but the issue went to court words still tied up. Indians have usually one in court but a more significant problem could be Congress where efforts are underway to restrict Indian casino gaming by amending the 1988 law Jody good Thunder says the nation's Governors are leading the effort right now secretary and a interior. Mr. Babbitt. He's a he's an ex-governor and also our president. He's an ex-governor. So I'm not saying it's going to make any difference, but I wouldn't bet against it despite the political connections Bill Thompson says he doubts the effort will be successful Indian gaming is the only Economic Development tool that Indian populations of had in this country since Columbus arrived and it would fly in the face of everything Clinton stands for if he now worked with State politicians. And slap the Indians down tribal leaders in Minnesota and around the country are counting on Clinton's push for economic development to outweigh State claims that expanded Indian gaming is bad social policy, Hawaii, Senator, Daniel, Inouye plans to hold hearings on the issue starting next month. This is Mark Style Main Street (00:08:20) radio and you're listening to a live broadcast from Grand Casino. I'd like to turn to Leonard Prescott and ask Leonard as the former chair of the national Indian gaming Association. I wonder if you have any theories as to why Indian gaming has been so much more successful in Minnesota than it has been in other states. (00:08:38) I think that what happened in Minnesota was really I think nationally people were looking at issues like organized crime disorganized crime Integrity of games and those kind of things and we knew that they were going to be the major issues there and we start thought that's not to get the foundational issues covered in Minnesota. And so we went to our representatives and we looked at whether there was a any any criminal activity taking place on the reservation there weren't and also to the representatives in the area the state senators some of those an area to point out the economic benefit that Indian reservations were were contributing and it wasn't in easy thing. Do the governor originally was opposed to it when Bingo first started. He said he was going to blow the Indians out of the water at one time. So it was it was really an educational process that had taken place in Minnesota that really showed the state of Minnesota and the legislators and the people that the Indian gaming is not only good for the reservations, but it's also good for the state in terms of job development in some of the economic activity taking place (00:09:45) Senator Burke. Do you wish that Minnesota had fought harder against Indian (00:09:48) casinos? I all we really didn't have any choice. I don't believe at the time the federal Indian gaming Act passed and it was clear that Indian casinos were going to be established and operated and I think was a feeling we had no choice but to go along with him. (00:10:08) Hmm. Let in Prescott. I wonder if you ever hear in your position or your former position where you were working nationally with tribes all over the country. Is there any resentment of tribes in Minnesota and their success? Is there a widespread belief now that all Indians everywhere are rich and therefore no longer need Federal money or grant money. Is that a problem? (00:10:27) I think there's there's that that misconception maybe even in this state. I think you need to look at reservations and where they are where they're located instance Mystic Lake close to the the Twin City area is going to have a much greater participation in their businesses some of the tribes like Red Lake they have maybe three casinos and it sounds like a lot of casinos but on the other hand, it will probably take them three years to pay for them. They only have 250 machines in one and 250 machines and other and then the 250 machines in the other. So that's three of (00:10:58) them had a lot of band members as well quite a lot and but a lot of people who live there (00:11:02) exactly 8,000 members and thousands of Acres of infrastructure to (00:11:05) develop. Well, let's move on. I've just noticed another tour bus pulling by so why don't we go on and talk about the fact that every day dozens of those buses? Crisscross Minnesota picking up gamblers and delivering them to casinos the casino operated buses offer free or low-cost rides many of them serve coffee and pastries and bus hosts lead passengers in games of bingo to get those gambling juices flowing reporter. Dan Olson rode the bus to Jackpot Junction near Morton in Southwestern Minnesota (00:11:36) gamblers traveling to Jackpot Junction step into a gleaming Motorcoach parked at a strip mall in Eden Prairie. 68 year old herb. Sonst a guard sitting next to Muriel. His wife is clear about his motive for the trip. Well, I suppose if I want to be completely candid I have to say it's greed. You know, you always think you're going to win Chris Perez seated in front of Irv and Muriel says some Casino gamblers are shy about revealing their true motives. They cite the casino food or the friendly people on the bus as the reason for the trip the the money involved almost Almost become secondary the 45 passenger motor coach has 26 Riders on a rainy spring weekday, the bus rolls along highway 212 through flat Minnesota farm country slowing almost imperceptibly as it passes through Glencoe Stewart Buffalo Lake camped in the back of the bus just above the whining diesel engined are a band of self-proclaimed rowdies. (00:12:28) No, we've never been to gambling. She is a liar (00:12:34) this foursome three middle-aged woman and a young man lob good-natured taunts at Ed the bus tour host Ed Simon's job is to entertain the Riders minutes after the bus is rolling Ed conducts. The first of many drawings for prizes ranging from money clips and key change to free lodging for weekend gambling excursions. It's a two hour bus ride, but if you keep everybody entertained and they all have fun and the ride doesn't seem as long in a more likely to come back. If not dreading the ride back and forth bus rider bingo starts wearing thin just passed Olivia and they're still about a half an hour to go for one of the rowdies in the back of the bus. The Bingo doesn't compare with the thrill of the (00:13:11) casino employees when they you hear them when you walk in the door dropping it just (00:13:19) The Genius of slot machines is not in the high technology video displays which bathes the players face in a ghostly light The Genius of slots as the Rowdy says is the sound of the payoff the Cascade of coins into a steel pan turns the head of even the most intense slot player a tour led by jackpot Junctions Jean lid back reveals the state of the (00:13:43) art. These are brand-new Blackjack video games and these here to our popular very popular since we got these in the you can't hardly get a seat on the weekend here on (00:13:53) the bus crowd from Eden Prairie has disappeared into the jackpot jungle a dozen motor coaches have brought gamblers from hundreds of miles around Betty Kellogg is taking her lunch break after a four and a half hour bus ride from Charles City, Iowa The Lure of jackpot beats the alternative on a rainy (00:14:09) afternoon watching television and maybe sleeping in the big chair or taking a nap in the afternoon. (00:14:15) Whatever. These husband sits quietly at lunch their marriage perfectly (00:14:19) balanced my winnings in in gambling probably have financed. My husband's gambling ways because unfortunately, he plays all of the money back that he wins. Recording Heartbreak Hotel, we need to find out of the way back (00:14:37) after six hours of gambling the 26 jackpot Express Adventures settle in for the return trip to Eden Prairie. Chris. Perez is smiling after a successful day at the blackjack table and the slot machines were nice to me a beaming herb Sons to guard seated behind Perez is simply full of himself as he reveals the some he won at the blackjack table and gets a quick reminder from Uriel his wife to button his lip less the IRS be listening. I'm not gonna tell you that cut that out. Well, I'm not telling my name. It's my last name is Perez in the back. The rowdies are subdued but not defeated. It was not a big day for winning but to borrow from the bumper sticker (00:15:15) still better than a gay home in a gloomy day like this babysitting, you know, waiting on the husband hand and foot I'm watching soap operas (00:15:29) or bus Bingo more drawings for keychains and finally 10 hours after departure for hours riding six hours gambling host Ed Simon bids farewell to the Riders of the jackpot Express and we hope to see you real soon. I hope everybody had fun whether they won or lost. I'm Danielson, Minnesota Public Radio. (00:15:49) And we're back at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. Let's go down to Main Street radio reporter Rachel rebe who's out on the casino floor talking with a blackjack dealer. Yes. I am on the floor of the Grand Casino Mille Lacs and I'm here at Blackjack School Louis Miller who has been a blackjack dealer at Grand Casino Mille Lacs for two years now spends a little of his time teaching people how to play Blackjack. How does the school work Lois? (00:16:13) Okay Rachel like these five ladies we have here today. They came up we give them their name tags. They sit down doesn't cost anything and we go through the whole game of blackjack with them. We don't (00:16:23) really get in to (00:16:25) basic strategy, but we go through the whole game when they leave the stable. They should be able to play Blackjack in any casino. (00:16:33) Louis there are 48 blackjack tables at the Mille Lacs Casino compared to 1100 slot machine. So there's a lot more slot machine playing than Blackjack playing that because people are intimidated. You don't have to know how to play a slot machine. If you can put the nickel in or the quarter in you can do (00:16:47) it. That could be I think probably sometimes a person might be intimidated but on the other hand a lot of other people like the Personal Touch of having a dealer and we have some machines here in the carousel that are the same thing. If you don't like a dealer, you can play Blackjack. It's basically the same thing as having a dealer. It's almost the same thing the intimidation part of (00:17:10) it. We're we're (00:17:13) all pretty friendly. We shouldn't be intimidating anybody, you know, and it's your own money you're getting to (00:17:18) Lois you've been dealing Blackjack for two years. Is it quite obvious to you when somebody sits down at your table the level of blackjack they've played how can you tell well when they ask for their (00:17:28) hits or deny a hit, it's pretty obvious. They don't they really don't know what to hit or what not to hit went by looking at what the dealer has. That's why it's really important that a person gets a book or takes one of these classes before they ever start playing (00:17:44) Louis. Have you do kind of put people in categories when they're playing at your table? You have kind of the beginners the experts the very intense gamblers. How do you divide them (00:17:51) up? Well, we don't divide them. They buy their method of play. They do that by themselves, you know, we don't say you're a beginner you're this and you're that they come and play if the beginners are usually go to the smaller tables like a three dollar table. We have them up to $25 minimum sometimes $100 minimum table and your better players usually bit more money. If you was going to split them up, I would say probably. Because of that reason how much money (00:18:20) they're bending. The people here are very serious gamblers that might spend a long period of time here that they they're coming here. This is work for them at the table. This isn't just some one hour to our diversion. Have you seen people sit at a blackjack table for hours? (00:18:37) Yes. I've had him sit at my table all day long and I have had him this been there all night and then sit at my table for a while during the day. Yes, I have seen (00:18:46) that how much money have you seen somebody go through at a blackjack table during one of your stints on as a dealer how much money might they have passed through in most cases. (00:18:56) Most of them I would say a hundred or two hundred dollars. I have seen as much I don't play the high-stakes a lot. But I have seen as much as like twelve fourteen hundred dollars lost you're saying or one. You see that that amount get one a lot of times too (00:19:12) Lewis. Do you ever just stop and say man, don't you think it's time to fold them? Well, we can't do that. But if (00:19:19) the floor people see if the our floor people they're here all the time. If a person does have a problem they're watching for that. And if I can see someone's having a problem there I would just I would call the floor person let them talk to them. We don't we don't want any we don't want that kind of thing, you know, but the floor people would handle something like that (00:19:37) been talking to Louis Miller. Who's a blackjack dealer at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. I'm Rachel rebe now back to Catherine at our anchor table about half of minnesotans gamble those who do are mostly dabblers waging a dollar here or a few dollars there, but some gamblers some people gamble enormous sums. Of money and can't seem to stop experts are struggling to get a handle on what's being called the addiction of the 90s Rachel riebe has that story suchet v a bright articulate 27 year old is locked behind a series of massive metal doors at a women's prison in Roseville. She is serving time for embezzling $41,000 from her employer to support her gambling habit. It is a real-life sickness it can it can progress at such a rapid rate and that it can totally change a person and take a normal honest person with values and turn them turn them into a common criminal and it can happen fast and it can happen without anyone around them knowing shave. He's downward spiral into compulsive gambling started in High School playing bingo at a local VFW Club from there. She moved to pull tabs and eventually to the video slot machines at the little 6 Casino in Shakopee when she exhausted her. And maxed-out credit card limits shave. He started taking money from the bank where she was head teller. She says finally getting caught was a relief. I would rather be sitting in jail. Then be where the the state of mind I was in that two month period when I was taking money because there is no worse hell that that was that was sheer hell for me. I mean it was I was so sick and so unhappy the to taken over my life entirely compulsive gambling was a problem in Minnesota long before pull tabs the state lottery and Indian gaming were legalized in the 1980s, but the easy accessibility of legalized gambling is making a bad situation even worse according to Betty George of the Minnesota Council on compulsive gambling. We're just getting to what many consider to be the tip of the iceberg. All of the elements are there for the corresponding explosion of compulsive gamblers coming forth to correlate with the earlier. Explosion of gaming in Minnesota George says Minnesota leads the nation in treatment efforts for compulsive gamblers. There are eight Outpatient Treatment programs and some 40 Gamblers Anonymous groups in the state a pair of gambling hotlines receive around six hundred calls a month, but insurance companies according to George have been reluctant to fund treatment and many compulsive gamblers. Don't seek help until they've hit rock bottom Twin City psychologist Lynn Ram Beck who specializes in the treatment of compulsive gamblers estimates that less than 200 are currently being treated in Minnesota a tiny percentage compared to the estimated 50,000 pathological gamblers in the state. (00:22:38) The concept of of us getting addicted to the attainment of money certainly is very popular in this Society. So the very fact that individuals try to get that big win, they win. We want to win the lottery. We want to get the progressive jackpot, (00:22:51) you know, it brings us kind of an instant celebrity sense an instance of (00:22:55) Status that goes with having (00:22:57) money adolescents are at four times the risk of adults for becoming problem gamblers senior citizens are another risk group ran back says problem gamblers generally suffer from low self-esteem and use gambling as a diversion from the unmet needs in their lives (00:23:14) and intend to gamble as a way of avoiding some pain in most cases related to relationships or man. That's a more personalized pain related to their own expectations about how their life should be going in their own sense of (00:23:25) achievement experts say the shorter the time between wager and pay off the more addictive the form of gambling video slot machines the kind that film Minnesota's Indian Run casinos and could eventually be in bars are considered to be highly addictive almost hypnotic for problem gamblers. The Minnesota Indian gaming Association says, they're concerned about compulsive gamblers this year. They've donated $100,000 to the Minnesota Council on compulsive gambling for preventive education Casino. We training and treatment and Rehabilitation of problem gamblers. The 800 number for problem gamblers is posted in most of the casinos and yet Casino management is quick to point out that the vast majority of their gamblers are just there to have fun Ron hagelin vice president at Grand Casino. Mille Lacs. (00:24:14) Our view here is not to spend time on potentially the 3% that come here and may be expressing their personal problems through our venue. It's on delighting the customer that comes here for recreational purposes. So that's where our focus is quite honestly (00:24:33) but statistics indicate that the recreational Gambler doesn't spend much money on the average less than $13 a month the casinos like the rest of the gambling industry are dependent to some extent on the big rollers the small percentage of gamblers who spend enormous amounts of money doctor will Craig of the University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional affairs. This is a recent survey indicates that two percent of the state's gamblers are betting a thousand dollars a month or (00:25:02) more in terms of the gambling industry in Minnesota. There are a few people who are betting enough money that they're keeping the whole system going. I think I calculated that it's something like 1% of the gamblers are betting half the money. Which I think is an incredible statistic so that I would think that the gambling industry is probably not all that Keen on despite any lip service. They might give non trying to control the total amount of money. Anybody (00:25:31) bets the extent of compulsive gambling in Minnesota is still not known the several surveys that have been taken indicate that at least one point five percent of the state's residents are problem gamblers. And that number could be closer to 5% I'm Rachel riebe Main Street radio, you're listening to a live Main Street radio broadcast from Grand Casino Mille Lacs. I'd like to ask some of our panelists to respond to that story. It makes a pretty serious allegation and suggest that to some extent the gambling industry in Minnesota is dependent on problem gamblers compulsive gamblers. I guess. I'd like to hear from from Leonard Prescott who works for little 6, and I'd also like to bring into the discussion Doug tweet and Bernita Churchill who are here with the with the Mille Lacs band, which who would like to start Doug (00:26:19) toid compulsive gambling is a very serious problem that we take very seriously any time that we're in an industry that benefits from gambling we have vital social responsibility to make sure that we have programs and policies in place to make sure that we can intervene where there are problem gamblers and get those individuals to places where they can be helped. I think we're doing a very good job of that. Now we need to continue to do a good job. And I think we need to improve at that in the future (00:26:47) if there were no problem gamblers. If nobody were coming in here betting money that they maybe shouldn't bet with the casinos be able to be the the some 300 or 500 million dollar industry that they are is it is it not true that the casinos rely to some extent on people who maybe shouldn't be gambling. Well, I think I think that you need to make a (00:27:06) distinction because somebody bets a large dollar amount that doesn't necessarily mean that that individual is a problem Gambler. I think there's a difference there. And what we want to do is if people are comfortable bedding large Some money, we want them to have the same entertainment experiences anybody else, but at the same time if somebody does have a problem, they're betting money that they really can't afford to be losing. Those are the individuals where we need to intervene and find some help from them. (00:27:31) Let me press got it sounded like yeah, you sounded like you had something you wanted to (00:27:34) add. Yes, you know. I'm about to about two years ago. I think the Minneapolis Star pointed out that there were more proud there were more people gamblers that are going to Las Vegas and anywhere else. I mean from Minnesota than anyone from anywhere else we get that straightened more more gamblers going to Las Vegas than anywhere else in the United States and they're coming from Minnesota. So there's always been a lot of people in Minnesota that have like to be involved in at gaming and they spent a lot of dollars when they go to Las Vegas those folks now maybe don't take as many trips to Las Vegas as they originally had so there are there are there are I think there are other that meant those kind of players in our in our businesses. I think that the also you know, we've started a program at Mystic Lake where we contribute a hundred and thirty eight. And dollars to on-site education of our dealers of our floor people to recognize problem gamblers and refer them to Gamblers Choice, which is an organization that has in treatment inpatient treatment and Outpatient Treatment, and we recognize that there's a light side to the gambling and there's also a dark side and that we need to be responsible for that industry and and so recognizing them is one of our responsibilities and one of our duties and we will continue to Monitor and pay attention to those kind of issues. I think I'd like to jump into this (00:28:56) situation to Charlie bird. (00:28:57) Well, first of all you talk about it Casino gaming being a 300 million dollar a year industry that's net. The actual gross is more like two and a half to three billion dollars a year. And so I'm not sure what you're referring to but sure there were creating more problem gamblers all the time. As people gamble more as they have an occasion to to continue the the habit or the gambling and number more of them get hooked and I agree with Betty George that we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg. I think it's going to be much higher in the years ahead (00:29:40) Senator Berg. What about this argument that minnesotans have always (00:29:43) gambled. Well, I think that's somewhat true. I think we've been conducive to gambling but you see the greatest majority of the people in Minnesota could not are didn't have the time enough to go to Las Vegas. No, they can jump in their cars and within half an hour or an hour at the most can be at a casino and experience the same type of a thrill they would at Las Vegas except they may not be able to see a Frozen for show but the casinos are offering a really good meals at A Cut Rate. Most of them and they're offering video slot machines Blackjack some cases paddle wheels. So they have anything there that attracts most people. (00:30:34) Can you would maintain that that some of our panelists are shaking their heads are there? No paddle Wheels is that (00:30:39) incorrect know there's currently not a compact that that governs a paddle Wheels. There are no paddle Wheels in Minnesota Indian casinos. Well, there was a time back but perhaps you've taken them all out now because yet I've been to to some of your casinos where you had the great gamble Paddle Wheel out of Fargo and if you've taken them out then you know, what's there and what isn't but I don't think they were the most addictive type. I think most addictive type of gambling machines are video slots. Senator the reason the paddle wheels are gone are because we've agreed as part of the compacting process in the Blackjack compact as you're well aware that I'm going to sort of Indian tribes have voluntarily agreed to Halt the expansion of gaming that's why there are no paddle Wheels in Minnesota Indian casinos. Well, they were not a big money maker. Anyhow, and (00:31:29) out. Okay, let's not get bogged down in one small detail. We'll also have an opportunity to comment further on all of these issues later on after our documentary when we have our Callin program. I hope that everyone who has something fiery on their tongue will have the opportunity to Let it Loose at that point. Some Minnesota restaurant and bar owners say they have a hard time competing with the casinos on Indian reservations some business owners say they can't compete because they have to pay taxes the casinos don't but casinos and their employees do pay most taxes. We looked into what taxes the casinos pay and why different rules apply to them. It's early Friday evening and the dining room at the Golden Gate Supper Club near Cloquet is about half full about a dozen people sit at the bar watching television and talking the Golden Gate's owner. George McCausland says the Supper Club used to be busier. He blames nearby reservation casinos for taking business away from (00:32:29) him. I have fond Duluth in Duluth, which is about 10 miles to the to the east of me. I have big bucks bangle, which is about three and a half miles to the west of me and we have the one on Lake Vermilion which is what about 50 or 60 miles north and then of course Hinckley, which is about 60 miles south. (00:32:48) McCausland believe some of his former customers are gambling away money. They once might have spent on dining out and he says the casinos can sell food at low prices because they make their money on gambling McCausland says last year he brought lunch from a casino to a state senate hearing to illustrate how hard it is for him to compete (00:33:07) the only time I've been in a casino I went out there at 10:30 in the morning and I bought two of their submarine Sandwiches. Okay there that long That white has five meets five. Cheese's she said well, what would you like? I said everything a buck and a quarter apiece. Now if I just stayed there and eating those sandwiches I would have also had coleslaw and potato salad. I can compete with that but when you don't have to pay any tax (00:33:36) McCausland says it's not fair that he has to pay state property taxes and corporate taxes that the reservation casinos don't pay and state law doesn't allow him to offer gambling at his bar. You can't give it to one group. And (00:33:50) especially when that group is not paying taxes. This land is made up of competition. That's why it's always been so fruitful and all of a (00:33:59) sudden we've taken it away from us the we who have paid the (00:34:03) taxes we who have built the highways no longer can (00:34:06) compete. (00:34:08) I don't think you have to be a mathematician to figure out that you can't take all this money out of our economy billions of dollars and take it away from the taxpaying businessman in expected to make he's not going to (00:34:22) George McCausland can't open a casino and Indian tribes can because federal law recognizes tribes as Sovereign, you know, City of Colorado law professor Charles Wilkinson says tribes are like States or counties. They can make their own laws within the laws of the United States in Minnesota tribal governments have decided to allow gambling on their land while the government of Minnesota has decided not to allow casinos on its land Wilkinson says Indian tribes have been described as domestic dependent (00:34:53) Nations. It's not a matter of they were here first. That's not the point. The point is that the tribes were operating government's entered into agreements treaties with the United States. That is sure they would remain operate in government and now tribes are beginning to flex their muscles a little bit (00:35:11) a few miles from George McCausland Supper Club on a weekday afternoon the parking lot at the big bucks casino on the Fond du Lac reservation is crowded with cars. Big bucks is small compared with the 2 Grand casinos or Mystic Lake, but the tribe is building a larger Casino closer to Interstate 35 Bob peacock chair of the van. Lac band of Chippewa has some potential logos for the new casinos sports bar displayed on the wall of his office peacock says it's not true that the casino and its employees. Don't pay taxes. (00:35:42) We pay the federal tax. We pay a fee tax on Class 2 Gaming to the federal government. We pay everything except a state tax per se on our business because we are a sovereign similar to what the state being sovereign state of Minnesota does not pay us taxes. And we as a sovereign with equal standing do not pay the state taxes, (00:36:08) the tribes themselves don't pay state taxes, but many Indian people do Indian people who don't live on reservations and that's the majority of Indian people pay state income taxes, even on money. They earn at tribal casinos Indian people pay federal income taxes regardless of where they live and most Indian homeowners pay property taxes as for the casino. Is non Indian casino management companies pay federal and state corporate taxes tribes. Don't pay corporate taxes on their share of the Casino profits, but Fond du Lac chair Bob peacock says in a sense all the money casinos make goes to pay taxes. (00:36:46) The business does pay a corporate tax, but it pays the corporate tax to the reservation, which is the government (00:36:52) peacock says the tribal government uses money from the casinos for projects such as clinics and schools just as the state uses tax money for Public Works, the Minnesota Indian gaming Association says all casinos also make voluntary donations to cities or counties. For instance the Shakopee mdewakanton Dakota tribe gives the City of Prior Lake forty thousand dollars a year to pay a police officer because the casino creates extra work for police peacock acknowledges some businesses lose out because of competition from casinos, but he argues that casinos employ thousands of people draw tourists and create business for local companies. (00:37:31) When anybody else wants to do it, you know, and they're welcomed with open arms and we're doing it and people who are having a problem with it, you know, when people are talking Airbus the whole damn world jumped up and down and said, oh my God, here we go. We savior we've done the same thing ours is a reality and people are complaining about it. (00:37:52) A State Department of Revenue study due out later. This year says business is up at bars and restaurants in counties that have casinos the report also says casinos may have saved the state seven million dollars in afdc payments and it finds that nearly 20% of the people who gamble at the casinos come from other states bringing money into Minnesota the issue continues to be a controversial one at the Capitol Senator Charlie Berg. Maybe you could bring us up to date about what's going on in the legislature right now. (00:38:20) Well, there isn't a great deal going on in the legislature about the casinos. The casinos are here and there's nothing we can do in the state level to either tax them or to put them out of business. So as far as legislations concerning though, there's really nothing the (00:38:40) competition from what about the potential for video gaming in other places besides (00:38:44) casinos? Well at the present time there is no bill that is pending that has anything language in their come. Proposing video gaming the only Bill that is alive right now Senate file 103 that deals only with regulations as far as lawful gambling is concerned but we have heard the arguments in the legislature about what the hospitality industry considers unfair competition and most of them arguments deal with the these buses hauling people from other communities into the reservations and to the casinos and and being paid a bounty system for bringing people into the casinos and they don't like that. They also do not like the casinos using cut-rate food as a kind of a loss leader to entice people into the into the casinos and I've warned the Indian Community about that for the last couple of years and said The more you the more you do this type of operations the More you're going to raise the Wrath of the hospitality industry and and it what could cause you trouble down the line (00:40:01) what any of our panel has the hospital Catherine Doug tweet with the Mille Lacs band has the hospitality industry produced any systematic studies which confirm their perception that that Indian casinos are hurting their business. (00:40:13) Well, yeah. Yes, we've had gambling hearings in the Senate and I think Doug that you were there were the hospitality industry came in and and and discuss the problems that they were having in the hospitality industry. (00:40:29) I believe that question in this is one I've heard before Senator is whether there are actually any studies that confirm the perception that businesses are losing business to the Indian casinos, especially in light of the study that says that the bars and restaurants in areas where there are casinos are actually gaining. (00:40:45) Well, the testimony we've heard is from bar owners supper club Owners that Say the buses are picking up the customers for the casinos right in their own doorstep and Hauling them off to the casino people that used to be potential customers of the bar the supper club and really we're seeing people lose out. Yeah, and you know perception when you see your customers living on a bus to go someplace else. It's not hard to figure out why they feel the way they do well, but Senator are you supposed to pass legislation based on perception or should you pass legislation based on hard data? Well, we haven't passed legislation dealing with it at all. But I have the question was have you heard testimony about these questions is whether (00:41:34) there was actually a study whether there's been a study of statistical analysis. Well, does anybody who's on (00:41:40) it's pretty hard to come up with this statistical analysis Scott. Yes. I'd like to comment, you know the state planning agency. They just had a recent study and in that study they pointed out that Ten point there was an increase for revenues with the bars and restaurants of 10.7% We're doing 1989 and 1991 with in the areas where casinos are located where casinos are not located. There was a still an increase of 5.4% in revenue for the bars and restaurants. I don't see that a decline in their industry. And I also like to comment on the person that said that nobody built how the highways and roads are that this the states did that well nobody ever considered a building them on reservations. And that's what this is all about is building some infrastructure Federal reservations and allowing them to get ahead and it's not that who was here first that's not the important thing. I agree with that but the Indians who have the Sovereign rights are entitled are or one only what they're entitled to under the federal law, which is a negotiation with between the federal government the state government or the tribal government and an opportunity to exercise their Sovereign rights. Well, I have nothing (00:42:47) but ask may I ask I just briefly that all of the panelists. This is obviously One of the hottest most controversial subjects relating to the casinos and I wonder if anything is being done to try to effect better communication between these various angry groups is anything being done to try to for instance work with bar and restaurant owners so that perhaps they can see some of some spinoff from the profits that the casinos are making. (00:43:12) Well, I would like to comment on. Mr. Blake on Mystic Lake. I think Leonard Prescott and the people of Mystic Lake are doing one of the finest jobs of running their casino and distributing the proceeds to the benefit of the tribe itself of any of the casinos in the state of Minnesota and I have nothing but respect for him appreciate that you're only (00:43:35) thinking how about the question is anything being done to try to try to sort of soothe his ruffled feathers duck toy here at Mille Lacs. One of the key goals (00:43:45) that the Mille Lacs band had in developing our casinos is we want it to be a benefit not only for the molecular surveys. But for the region as a whole and we're working very hard and will work with anybody who wants to work with us and seeking out mutually beneficial business relationships where the casino can work for the non-indian business and vice versa were very anxious about doing those things. And I think we've done a quite quite a good job of that so (00:44:07) far. So you think you do have good relations with many of the business owners in the area. (00:44:11) Yes. Oh Catherine, I think that you know that people are generally people are generally can okay keep people are generally concerned with probably more concerned with the things. They don't know rather than the things they do know and I think that the concern about what they don't know they conjure up things that maybe we're taking business away that there's organized crime. There's this organized crime and all that. I think that the thing is really dispelling some of that and becoming more open with our businesses and talking about the 10,000 jobs that were that were brought out talking about the people coming off welfare and off the Tak the welfare rolls and becoming a going on to the tax rolls, and and I think that's that's one of the things that has to happen. A lot of ignorance. There are a lot. There are a lot of people out there that are ignorant about the real benefits of tribal gaming and I think that's what we're trying to do with Minnesota Indian gaming Association also through Mystic Lake on a campaign to do just that educate the public. (00:45:07) Okay, let's move on for now and perhaps we can revisit some of these issues again. (00:45:10) Well, I can tell you that the thing that makes the people the most angry out in rural areas is the buses picking up customers in their localities and Hauling them 75 miles away to a casino. It just makes the people that are involved with the supper club or bar just makes them really angry (00:45:30) and that's clearly there's been a great deal of testimony to that effect at the Capitol and we've talked with people who've said that too. Let's move on a government report. Last winter said American Indian tribes have lost 12 million dollars to unscrupulous Casino management and supply companies that report was disputed by Indian gaming Advocates, but it added fuel to a debate about non Indian gambling. Companies most of the 200 Indian Gaming facilities in the country are run by outside management firms. Some observers say tribes are vulnerable to exploitation. But others say tribes can take care of themselves Main Street radios lay finger reports (00:46:07) when the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe decided three years ago to build a casino. It had no way of getting the big bank loan. It would need and no expertise in running a casino tribal chief executive Marge Anderson says the tribe had to take on a partner a group of outside business people formed Grand casinos Incorporated specifically to finance and manage the Mille Lacs band casinos, Marge Anderson says the arrangement was a good deal for the tribe. (00:46:32) We needed these kind of people to train our people they're the ones I put themselves at risk on coming in here spending all their money to to do all this and it didn't cost us a penny (00:46:42) industry observers say in the past few years about 40 groups. Nationwide have formed Casino management corporations, though fewer than half of them actually have Contracts to run casinos Grand casinos Incorporated based in Plymouth is one of the nation's largest and was the first to make a public stock offering a year and a half ago gamblers will lose an estimated 120 million dollars this year at Grand casinos Mille Lacs and Hinckley after expenses. The casinos will clear an estimated twenty eight million. The tribal government gets 60% of that the other 40 percent or about 11 million will go to Grand Casino zinc. The arrangement is within federal guidelines, but Leonard Prescott says, it's unfair. I think they just charge too much Prescott is Chairman of little 6 Incorporated the tribe owned company that operates Mystic Lake and little 6 casinos on the Shakopee mdewakanton Sioux reservation. The Shakopee Su are one of the few tribes that run their own casinos federal law allows management companies up to 30 percent of profits or 40% if they've also paid for construction of the casino, but Prescott says such Arrangements don't give enough weight to the fact That in most States including Minnesota casinos are legal only on reservation land if it weren't for the value of that land this management company would not be able to operate a gambling casino. So the management company needs to give some value to that land and maybe some projections that are more real and get a return on money birth based upon a percentage that a business should receive rather than something that is ongoing and and unrealistic Prescott a little six operate a consulting firm to help tribes run their own casinos The Firm charges a consulting fee but gets no share of the profits an indian-owned financing company feels a similar niche in Casino financing Ojibwe. John Herrera is president of first American Capital management company, which connects Indian tribes with lenders Herrera says as Indian gambling develops more credibility with mainstream lenders and tribes get more business experience more tribes are running their own casinos with only startup help from consultants and financiers. Certainly, we're seeing more and more tribes becoming involved with us on what I would say is the rebound they've been involved with some kind of a management type entity or some other kind of a profit share Arrangement and they're now coming the first American and seeking in the alternative but officials had Grand casinos say they earn their 40% of Casino profits under Federal gaming law management contract are limited to seven years Grant casinos Chief Operating Officer, Tom, bro. Sig says his company has a good chance of renewing its contracts with the Mille Lacs band. My opinion is if you put a quality product on the table, if you put a fair sense of terms, and you always do more than you say you're going to do And you're honest that there will be people who want to do business with you grant casinos has four more casinos do to open within the next year in Louisiana and Mississippi. The company owns two of them. The other two are owned by Indian tribes analyst Mike Mo follows the gaming industry for Dane Bosworth. He says Grand casinos is earning its pay from the Mille Lacs band. I think given the location of Hinckley and and Mille Lacs the amount of business that they're able to generate roughly a hundred twenty million in Gross win when you know, the location isn't even nearly as desirable as what the Mystic Lake Casino would be. I think that significant I think it points to some of the some of the marketing and entertainment value that the grand casinos management team has been able to bring to that tribe, Moe says after paying the Management Group the Mille Lacs band Nets about 15% of total Casino revenues Prescott of the Shakopee. Mdewakanton. Dakota says his tribe. It's 60 percent of the gross managing its own casinos Mo says a 60 percent profit margin is virtually impossible. The industry standard is around 25% in any case Stan Crooks the Shakopee mdewakanton tribal chairman says his tribe is better off without a management company. Well certainly because you get it one hundred percent of the revenues the net revenues come to the tribe where as part of those revenues would go to the management company industry Watchers say there are cases around the country of management companies taking advantage of Indian communities a company owned by Entertainer Wayne Newton was accused of swindling a tiny Oklahoma tribe Newton's company was removed and the case is in arbitration Bill Thompson a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas says the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs isn't doing its regulatory job. This was I think the main purpose of the Federal Act was to provide a regulatory mechanism and and Up the bureaucratic operation in Washington DC is just not gotten off the ground pick. They said they had one inspector for now. They're supposed to do direct inspection of bingo games. They had one inspector for 200 reservations the national Indian gaming Association opposes tighter regulation saying calls for more government control are meant to undermine The credibility of Indian gambling but Thompson says Indian gaming should serve a public interest funding improvements on reservations. He says tighter government control of companies that do business with tribes would help ensure the tribes get the benefits they want. I'm laugh anger Main Street radio (00:52:16) and we're back at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. It's interesting. We have with us both Leonard Prescott who is with little 6 in Shakopee and also Bernie to Churchill who's with the Mille Lacs band now, obviously the Shakopee band decided to not use a management company and Mille Lacs decided that it would is one of you right one wrong or is it just two different ways of doing the same thing for any to Churchill? Well, I think that each Tribe has to look at its resources and what expertise that they have available and the Mille Lacs band didn't have the resources to build both facilities here at Mille Lacs and Hinckley, they we are definitely developing the capacity to run our own facility. And I guess that's probably one of our main goals and in a doing that the management company has provided the training and the education, you know for our band members to be promoted. So you're hoping at some point in the future that you will take over yourself. That's one of our goals. Yes and Leonard Prescott. It has it been a good idea that that you took over for yourselves. (00:53:18) Well, you know, I couldn't presume to tell any other tribe how to run their business. I think that there are other tribes in Minnesota that run their own gaming operations and they're doing well, but I think that generally it's better for their tribe to run their own business because I think it provides for more self-sufficiency and management experience for Indian people that could be transferred to other businesses. I also The thing I think that as at that comment that I had about the 40% a lot of times and it's not just it's not Mille Lacs Casino in general but management companies. I think that the land is worth something and 40% of the profits is a lot of is a lot of dollars when when the tribe has hundreds of members or thousands of members to provide for in the management company maybe has a few members and there should be some more realistic work there that it's just my opinion. Also, I think that some management companies that are sympathetic to Indian issues and they want to provide for Indian people and at the same time go into a state and start developing in a state where there are the Indian tribes. I think that's a I don't know if their interest is for Indian people are maybe it's for the bottom line and and that's not helping Indians Nationwide. That's just an opinion (00:54:26) okay of the 50,000 American Indians who live in Minnesota about half live in the Twin Cities away from reservations and away from casinos the lives of most Urban Indians are not touched by the casino. Boom, but some tribes are trying to extend the economic fruits of casinos to Indians in the City. Minnesota Public Radio is John be one has that report. (00:54:50) Each weekday morning Joy speak takes a bus or walks the six blocks from her home to the American Indian Center on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis there she gets on a shuttle bus with about 15 other American Indians this shuttle and another one in st. Paul each make three round trips a day to the Mystic Lake Casino 40 minutes away in Prior Lake (00:55:13) just helps out a lot because I can't afford to buy a car right now and it gets you to and from work and it's reliable and there's no fee. You know, it's provided by the casino (00:55:25) Joy speak is a member of the Pomo Tribe of Northern California. She's lived in Minneapolis most of her life before she started work at Mystic Lake 15 months ago. She and her three children were supported by welfare. She did an internship at the casino and meanwhile studied bookkeeping and casino management at a job training center for American Indians. She now makes eight and a half dollars an (00:55:47) hour the people that I work. Really nice and my boss is trying to get get a lot of Indians into management as soon as the new casino was built. It was going to be a lot of promotions and So hopefully I'll be looking for position there somewhere (00:56:08) but Peak is one of the small minority of Twin Cities Indians who have benefited from the casino. Boom Francis Fairbanks who heads the Minneapolis American Indian Center says unemployment among the city's native population is as high as (00:56:21) ever I'd say it's at least 80% more somewhere (00:56:26) near Twin Cities Indians do not receive monthly shares from Casino profits as do residents of Dakota reservations in southern Minnesota and though some Urban Indians have moved back to reservations to work at casinos. Most have not Minneapolis Ojibwe. Donovan Boyd says, he tried a job at Grand Casino Hinckley, but the wage of $6 an hour wasn't enough to keep him interested. I was working in in the gift shop. There was a lot of stress and strain there. I think it's a you're dealing with people every day that they'll last maybe two hundred dollars and they're complaining as to why you know, why why our machines were in paying out more and I really didn't care for it. But tribal leaders say they're doing what they can for urban Indians officials of the Shakopee mdewakanton Sioux Tribe, which owns Mystic Lake say the casino employees four hundred Indians all but 20 of them from off the reservation mid-walk Anton tribe members receive shares of gaming profits big enough to live on and some choose not to work the grand casinos at Mille Lacs and Hinckley also bus Indian workers from the Twin Cities, but the program has attracted only a few Riders Casino officials blame the 90 mile distance between City and reservation Grand casinos Chief Operating Officer, Tom, bro. Sig says the casino company is now taking an indirect approach to helping Urban Indians were trying To shall I say convince our vendors some of whom have facilities in the Twin Cities that it might give them a competitive advantage in doing business with us to have a progressive program for hiring Indian people. The success of Indian casinos has not meant a windfall for Twin Cities social service agencies that serve Indians officials of the Shakopee Su say they gave three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to Charities last year including $26,000 to Indian organizations. Francis Fairbanks of the American Indian Center says her agency got no major grants from Casino profits, but she is not complaining what she does complain about is the suggestion that casinos should solve the problems of all (00:58:39) Indians. I presented a grant to a group that that was afraid that only had two questions to me. What about the budget? And what about why didn't I go to the casinos for my grant I said, this is so crazy. I said, you know, it's just like, you know, they're not helped you to serve us all there. They're going to serve their own reservations and that's (00:58:59) fine. Fairbanks says after years of bitter poverty reservation Indians are entitled to look out for themselves for a while. But Bill Thompson a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas says, it's fair to expect Indian tribes with highly profitable casinos to share the wealth. This is a privileged benefit given to them and I would say they should have a special privilege but in exchange for a favored position, they should accept a social responsibility that the funds should be from the casinos should be considered in some sense Community funds and Taxation funds and I think they should be able to focus those funds on their individual reservations, but beyond that they should have obligations to other Indian peoples to because that is because they're an Indian person is why they have this privileged and Situation with casinos (00:59:48) I would say to him. How would he like the idea of all the white millionaires getting together and helping every white Social Service Agency that needed it couldn't do (00:59:57) it. Francis Fairbanks says given the history of broken treaties and stolen Indian lands Indians should be given at least a hundred years to do what they like with Casino profits before non-indians make suggestions on how to use the money other native leaders. Say given time Indians will use Casino money to help one another more. I'm John be when Minnesota Public (01:00:20) Radio. I'd like to remind you that you're listening to a special Main Street radio broadcast live from Grand Casino on the Mille Lacs Chippewa reservation. I'm Catherine winter here with Rachel re be coming up the new Buffalo a Minnesota Public Radio documentary, then after the documentary you can call in with your questions for our guests support for today's Main Street radio broadcast is provided by the blandin foundation helping to build communities throughout Minnesota. Let's pause a moment for station identification.