A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from the Grand Casino Mille Lacs near Garrison, Minnesota. Continued 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. They also answer listener questions. Program also includes various other segments. MPR’s Mark Steil reports on how casinos came to be in the state. MPR’s Rachel Reabe interviews individuals in the Mille Lacs casino. MPR’s Leif Enger and John Biewen report on investments and changes seen on reservation and with its tribe members. This is part 2 of 2 in this special broadcast.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
(00:00:03) And we're back at the Mille Lacs Chippewa reservation coming to you live from Grand Casino. I'm Catherine winter here with Rachel rebe who's out right now among the slot machines Rachel. Thank you Catherine. I'm standing with Ken mimic. Who is the Chief Financial Officer for Grand Casino. Mille Lacs can give our listeners an idea of how big this facility is. Well, if you were to put three football (00:00:24) fields side by side that's about the size of this facility. We've got about a (00:00:28) hundred and thirty thousand square feet of total facility. Actually today is the second birthday of Grand Casino Mille Lacs two years ago. This was not the facility you opened up in tell me what's happened since since then we've been through a number of expansions we started out with about a 10,000 square foot facility expanded again, another 12,000 (00:00:50) and last July we opened a (00:00:51) 52,000 square foot expansion, which is the largest part of the gaming floor as you see it today. Now in addition to hearing the slot machines in the Blackjack dealers here. It's possible. You may also hear some construction noises going on because you're into another construction project at this point. That's right. We're going through we're adding what's called a kids quest which is a daycare center. We're also adding a video arcade handle some of our teen activity and also support the family (00:01:20) coming to this location. We're also (00:01:22) adding about a 250 seat restaurant called the Grand Northern Grill. So that's the expansion you see going right now. Ken is today a busy day at Grand Casino Mille Lacs as we look around us. Is this a busy day or about a medium day for you? I'd say it's actually sort of low to medium. It's a Monday Monday is usually a fairly slow day today. If you were here on Thursday, Friday Saturday Sunday, you'd see virtually all the spaces filled how many people might be here today today? We will probably see about 5,000 people today and I guess among those are 13 busloads of peach people. I've heard are here today as well. What's been your biggest number of people that you've ever had here in a (00:02:02) date we've seen over 12,000 here usually during the summer (00:02:06) months. Probably August September. We'll see about 45 to 50 thousand people a week through our doors. What does that translate in terms of money? We know that estimates are that a billion dollars is wagered it Indian casinos annually in terms of this casino what might that mean well very easily the gaming revenues are sort of a misconception revenues here aren't necessarily correlated to the amount of money that actually goes into a slot machine so less than 10% of what goes into a slot machine is actually turn returned as Revenue to the casino. We see about 25 to 30 dollars per person that comes through the door. So when you talk about 5,000 people you take that times 25 or $30 and that gives you an idea of how much money might come in today. And again, the Mille Lacs Casino is the third-largest behind Mystic Lake Hinckley then Mille Lacs. Thank you again. We've been talking to Ken mimic. Who's the Chief Financial Officer here. I'm Rachel rebe now back to Catherine winner. Thanks. Rachel casino. Gambling has been called the new Buffalo a chance for American Indian communities to build their economies in Minnesota where Indian casinos are bringing in more money than they are in any other state tribal leaders say gambling profits are wiping out poverty and unemployment on some reservations given time. They say the Deep social problems in Native communities also can be solved with the help of Casino money Minnesota public radio's John be Yuan and ladyfinger prepared this report on how well Indian casinos are paying off John be when narrates the report. (00:03:45) Traffic is steady and quick on Mystic Lake Drive on the Shakopee mdewakanton Sioux reservation a half hour south of Minneapolis even during a weekday afternoon. These drivers will have trouble finding a parking space at Mystic Lake Casino as tribe member Tracy stadi will tell you the traffic started picking up when the tribe got into the casino business in the mid-1980s Tracy is 25 and a mother of three small children. She grew up on the tiny reservation before this road was paved for the (00:04:14) gamblers just be able play in the middle of the road didn't even have to worry about, you know, any cars speeding through at 60 or 90 a car coming through, you know any time of the day. For road bikes on of down the road and play with their friends and built forts right across the street and didn't have a care in the world. Now, you don't even go near the road (00:04:41) the 200 member middle accountant Sioux Tribe runs, one of the most successful Indian gaming businesses in the country. Its Mystic Lake and little 6 casinos draw 10,000 visitors a day most of them from the nearby Twin Cities. The tribe is Scott County's largest employer. Most of the casino workers are non Indians from off the reservation. Mystic Lake is being expanded to the size of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip all this on a reservation that was a niche of poverty ignored by Outsiders when it opened its first bingo hall 11 years ago in 1982 our community. A lot of the folks lived in single-wide trailer homes. They had about we had about 60 percent that were receiving some kind of assistance. We had no educational So we had a no sewer and water development and virtually no funds coming in that would allow for that kind of a growth tribe member Leonard Prescott is Chairman of little 6 Incorporated which runs the gambling operations. The gaming company is owned by the tribe Prescott's estimates of gross revenues from the two casinos have ranged from a hundred and fifty million to two hundred million dollars a year. We have become an economic strength in the state of Minnesota. We have 2,700 people that are employed by Mystic Lake that can then afford food on the table for their children. They can afford the cars. They can afford gas. They can afford the clothing and you go to the theater and all those kind of things. So there's there's a Rippling effect to this Advantage Tracy stadi misses the quiet of the old days but having grown up poor. She has no quarrel with her tribes New Wealth or her own the reservations run down trailer homes are being replaced by two-story Suburban style houses Tracy's Almost finished (00:06:31) full deck off, uh here off the dining room and hopefully in the near future, maybe a small pool. It depends. I guess they're hard to clean. So I don't (00:06:44) know the tribes hundred and one adult members get a share of Casino profits in the form of monthly checks tribe members are reticent about the size of their incomes, but they each receive an estimated 8,000 dollars a (00:06:56) month. three car garage That's going to give us a lot of space to grow and move around. two-story foyer put my chandelier that I've always wanted. (00:07:18) The success of the middle accountant and a few other tribes has created a new stereotype the rich Indian stand Crooks is Middle, akhaten tribal chairman, like someone said you could always tell an Indian driving around by the car that usually older car quite old and beat up and needs repairs. Now, they Point around say if you see a new car go by they said oh that's probably one of the Indians because there's there they all got new cars but a slim fraction of Indians get big payments from gambling only a few hundred in the whole country for most Native Americans. The gambling benefits are less dramatic or non-existent. Nonetheless Advocates say gambling is the first tool that has made any real economic difference for Indian (00:08:03) people (00:08:06) Shakopee Sue leaders say most of their gaming profits which have been estimated at 20 million 290 million dollars a year are devoted to the collective benefit of the tribal Community the tribe plans to start. Is outside of the gambling industry and has already improved government services. It's added this child care center and a new after-school program for older kids with computers and a tutor Prescott says the tribe has also expanded its Health Clinic counseling services and chances for schooling. We have an educational program that allows any of the kids in our reservation to go to any place in the United States for school or abroad and we pay for their education. We have health insurance policies in the community so that the health is taken care of and so there's no state or federal funds for (00:08:53) that. This is an interesting area because one more time it's the focus of the building is on the children (00:09:04) Roseanne Camp anole direct public relations for the mid-walk content tribe Dakota kids in new blue jeans play basketball and Jim hockey in the clean high-ceilinged rec room. (00:09:14) It's a place for them to be after school. It's a place for them to gather. It's a recreational facility. It's set up for games and athletic kinds of things. It's just a great place for the kids to Center on and be (00:09:26) here some Native Americans worry that in the push for Prosperity Indians will leave their culture behind but native Traditions are part of the tribes education (00:09:36) plans together (00:09:41) after school program director, Monique Lucius and 14 year old Debbie decorum move across the gym Among The Bouncing basketballs working on a traditional dance. (00:09:51) Together. There you go. (00:09:53) I look at gaming revenues a great opportunity for us to go back and re identify with their culture tribal chairman stand Crooks by back land that we want soand buying back artifacts that we once owned that is sold and traded and is gone but still here in the state. And so now we have the opportunity in a money to buy those things back and build a structure to house them in and provide instructors and teachers and bring the Dakota people in order to teach the young people about our our history American Indian leaders talk about history when arguing the tribal gaming should be allowed to continue. They say the money made so far from casinos is barely a down payment on the debts owed to Indian people for hundreds of years. They say an indifferent or hostile White Society has kept Indians on their (00:10:46) knees. No my grandma would always tell my stories. You know, she when she first went to the In school, she go there and be whipped because she was taking her native tongue or she come home and she'd be whipped because she is talking English. So, you know, it's like a catch-22, you know, what was she to do (00:11:03) what Tracy stayed? He's grandparents did was drink Tracy guesses almost half of tribe members including some of her relatives abuse alcohol or drugs and the new gambling wealth hasn't changed that, (00:11:16) you know, overall the alcohol and drug addiction altar. I think it's it's bad and it's probably getting worse. My own view is that you know, it gives them more money to drink with (00:11:27) some say Distributing Casino profits directly to tribe members is a bad use of the money that people who've been poor for so long won't spend it wisely newspaper reports of mid-walk Anton members buying fancy cars and jewelry have embarrassed some on the reservation the tribe offers its members investment counseling and encourages them to prepare for the day when the money stops flowing little 6 chairman Leonard Prescott says, it's not fair to criticize tribe members for irresponsible spending the casino money sprang on tribes almost Night Prescott says learning how to hunt. The new Buffalo will take time. You have a lot of dysfunction in Indian families that dysfunction has to be corrected. So we're looking at a generation. Maybe we're looking at another generation. So it's not that you have a bingo bingo hall or a casino today and all your problems are (00:12:20) solved tomorrow. I remember having to haul water. There's a pump like this be a half mile down the road. Winter spring fall summer. We were hauling water cut and would get home from work and do the chores and then go out to play by that time. It was eight o'clock in the evening like a Loretta Lynn story, you know Coal Miners Daughter something like that (00:12:48) Molly big bear lives today within a quarter mile of where she was raised on a wooded Hill a few minutes southeast of aisle near Malik's Lake in central Minnesota. She has endured poverty a rough divorce and about with clinical depression, but Molly says, there are Joy is now her six children the casino job that took her off welfare and her dancing gray Pony waboku a (00:13:11) while back way in Ojibwe means he has great hair last summer. I bought him a brand new saddle beautiful saddle. It's black with diamond studs on it. So even my baby gets a slice of the pie. (00:13:27) Molly Big Bear is one of several hundred Mille Lacs Ojibwe who work at the boxy pastel-colored Grand Casino on the west shore of Lake Mille Lacs in contrast to the mid-walk Anton soothe. The Mille Lacs band is using all of its Casino profits to improve government services and buy land other than a $500 Christmas bonus. There's no distribution of Casino revenues. That doesn't bother Molly Big Bear. (00:13:52) If I got a per capita check, it would be just like going back on welfare, you know, I wouldn't have to work. I just stay home and get my check. We're getting things that we need and things that we wanted a new phone a vacuum. I mean probably to some people it doesn't seem like oh wow a new vacuum big deal, you know, but this is Something this is something I've never done before is by the brand new vacuum for over $100. It's always a $5 here $10 their rummage sale special (00:14:29) since taking a job two years ago as a phone operator at the casino Molly has moved up quickly to receptionist then administrative assistant in marketing. She's also one of 20 employees and what's called the Grand University a program of business seminars and college classes to help tribe members move up the management ranks. (00:14:52) This is something that you know, there was there was just a dream and and now it's a reality. I guess it just it just kind of it still amazes me (00:15:01) Marge Anderson is the Mille Lacs band as chief executive her government-issued 15 million dollars in bonds guaranteed by Casino profits to pay for building projects similar to those on the Shakopee Sioux reservation a new government building Community Center and daycare facility a new clinic will open before the end of the year to schools in time for fall classes. But so far for Mille Lacs tribe members, the main benefit of the casinos is the chance for a job with Indians getting preference. The results are mixed. (00:15:39) Got good water (00:15:40) now. That move acidity before I usually just talked to know how to doing something on a gravel Street half a mile from the reservations new water tower tribal Public Works employees Reginald Garbo and John iron necklace use an electric sewer. Snake to remount a clogged line the house. They're visiting is Tiny. Most of the exterior is covered in clear plastic Against the Wind and the yellow paint underneath is peeling away in chips the size of your hand despite the casinos. This is still a typical reservation home despite the tribal governments claim of zero unemployment. The jobless are still easy to find Reginald Garbo. They needed to kind of train our people to work. No, they weren't used to getting up at seven eight o'clock in the morning some of the people that haven't worked for 40 years. Corn internet work cycle don't think they didn't know how to work do that. Garbo himself has never worked at the casino, but most local tribe members have many didn't last long Bernice Grice who owns the house and John iron necklace whose unplugging her drain are both former Casino employees (00:16:52) piano when I start opening they're really happy in this going down work. Well, I got to go to work when you walk in here all you see these (00:17:00) Indians. Now all of a sudden they turn around this white guys working in a dealing table. I can understand what some of the people had complaints about taking orders from, you know, quite what's a white people and they never have before and I'm telling them to say why you be in such time our forget it. We want to make make it here later on in the casino. You have to be an apple Reginald Garbo. That's what Indian Indian people call call the person that you know doesn't really give a crap about their culture. That's that's what makes it so hard, you know, if you want to if you want to make it in the white man's world and you have to turn the corner and turn to be an apple. In fact, the casino hasn't changed life for many Malak so jib way Molly Big Bear's sister, Sheila Anderson says, sometimes just getting a job isn't enough. Well a lot of a lot of our people are alcoholics. As so my they get their first paycheck and they, you know go out and blow it and don't come back to work. Sheila worked at the casino for one month and her story is common of the several hundred Mille Lacs members hired when Grand Casino opened only 45 have stayed in been promoted still Casino profits have created other jobs. The tribal government has doubled its payroll to nearly 300 and construction projects will mean hundreds of jobs this summer. The stream of gamblers is also changing the way non-indians do business around Mille Lacs the newest addition to the newest vacation spot on the lake is this whirlpool bath big enough for 15 prosperous tourists under construction at the Lake Mille Lacs Resort when the casino is busy everybody's busy and as long as a casino stays busy, so will everybody else Dave Bentley manages the resort it used to be called Eddie's a ramshackle Place favored by walleye fisherman. The new hotel has an indoor pool cathedral ceiling and glass facade 10 years ago, you'd come up here and I'm not saying that any of the properties were bad by any means but they were the same as they were 10 years before that in 10 years before that other businesses oppose the change outlying bars and restaurants say cheap meals at the casinos are taking their customers. When the Blue Goose Tavern burned down recently one of the first rumors. Was that the owner unable to compete with the The ins had torched it for the insurance, but the man charged with arson turned out to be an angry former patron of the tavern Ojibwe Ruth's am an employment manager at the Mille Lacs Casino says the resentment toward Indian casinos comes from jealousy. She tells of an encounter with a white man at the Blue Goose. (00:19:51) He was very drunk and he walked by and I was paying for our drinks at the time and I pulled out a $50 bill and he had seen it. He says that Indians get it for free. I just start pushing him and I told him I said one of these days I said you're going to be working for the engines here. And sure enough he's working here. (00:20:16) On the Red Lake reservation in remote Northwestern Minnesota, the effects of Indian gambling are hard to find here new construction means an office framed up from two by fours at the back of the existing bingo hall. That's where the Red Lake band has the smallest of its three casinos 50 slot machines three blackjack tables. No neon in a back room crammed with video monitors Red Lake gaming manager, Adrian. Omen watches a money counting machine sort packets of dollar bills (00:20:52) if we would have (00:20:52) started large up here if we would have put in a multi multi-million dollar complex. We would be broke. We'd be the laughingstock of Minnesota in contrast to the Shakopee Sioux Tribe with its big casinos and only 200 tribe members to share the profits the Red Lake Ojibwe have a sprawling reservation with 8,000 members and a Of trickle of gambling money without a big city to feed in customers. The Red Lake band has small-scale casinos. It spent less than a million dollars to open its first one two years ago in Warroad since then it's open small casinos in Thief River Falls and Red Lake gaming employees 330 people on the reservation 230 of them Native American. Everyone in management is Red Lake Ojibwe gamblers won't buy this reservation new schools or buildings. Anytime soon. Living conditions are still substandard for many. The only social program paid for by Casino revenues is What's called the elderly maintenance program Amelia white feather who lives alone needs work done on her bathroom (00:22:08) the door is just narrow if I had to have a wheelchair then I'll be (00:22:13) able to get through there. (00:22:15) At the (00:22:16) whole thing into the wall will take (00:22:18) reinsulated put plaster board up there and we'll put a shower went in (00:22:22) Fairbanks heads up the elderly maintenance program five full-time handy men who have done small and large repairs for more than 250 old people on the reservation. The repairs are free courtesy of tribal gaming and they are needed some of my people that work for me would go into a bathroom. They'd almost practically fall through the floor. In fact, one of them did right into the basement Amelia white feather accepts the workman's presence with a chuckle and few words. She appreciates the new bathroom, but thinks gambling is a bad idea hate to lose a nap and I live (00:22:57) on a fixed income side after. Go by that (00:23:02) the Red Lake reservation is divided on gaming some worry about compulsive gambling others. Say the tribe should build bigger casinos with brighter lights and more jobs. But gaming manager. Adrian. Omen says the tribes modest approach means less divisiveness to our main objective was to put people to work and ate our elderly. You're running a business. You're selling a product. Your quarters are tokens. They recycle you comply with with the regulations. That's it. Nothing magic about (00:23:37) it. (00:23:40) Native American leaders say they're in a Race Against Time trying to make lasting change in their communities before the new Buffalo is taken away tribes that can afford to invest in non-gambling related business do so the Shakopee mdewakanton Sioux bought a small company that makes construction equipment Tracy stadi says it's harder to restore Pride. She's determined to help despite the estimated 8,000 dollars a month. She gets from gambling Tracy works for the middle. Akhaten Dakota government helping shape the tribes education (00:24:14) programs. I don't have to work I can stay home, but I choose to work. I'm just trying to get the word out to these parents to these kids that you need to be educated. Because when the money is gone where you going to be back to right where we were 10 (00:24:34) years ago? I'm John B win. (00:24:42) That report was produced by John view in and lay a finger with technical Direction by John sure, you're listening to a special Main Street radio broadcast live from the Mille Lacs Chippewa reservation support for today's Main Street radio broadcast is provided by the blandin foundation helping to build communities throughout Minnesota. Our guests today are Leonard Prescott the chairman of little 6 Incorporated. Which runs the Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake Leonard Prescott is also former chair of the shock of humid walk into Kota tribe and former chair of the national Indian gaming Association. He joins us by satellite from Washington where he's been attending a meeting also with us is state. Senator Charlie Berg who chairs the Senate gaming regulation committee, Senator Burke joins us by satellite from our Saint Paul Studios and here with us at Grand Casino. Our duct. Wait who's Commissioner of corporate Affairs for the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa and tribal government official Bernita Churchill. Thanks to all of you for being here. I wanted to start by asking how much do those of you who work within the casinos or within tribal government think those casinos ought to be expected to change reservation life. Would anyone like to start? Renita the quote. The question is how much do you think Casino should be expected to change reservation life how quickly can those changes come about and are people expecting that they might are people expecting too much from casinos to quickly looking at the tribal government point of view. We've Mille Lacs has been open for two years now, excuse me, and we've been able to do a lot of infrastructural work here on the reservation we've been able to do a water tower. We're looking at rebuilding our communities right now, we're developer building on upper and a lower school were building a health care facility. Daycare. We built ceremonial buildings. It's been a long process, you know developing a community and it took a lot of input from the communities to determine, you know, how to rebuild our communities and I think it's going to be a long process before, you know will be be able to have us, you know, comfortable standard way of life right now. In addition to that were also looking at developing housing projects, you know throughout all three districts of the Mille Lacs band. So a person walking through the reservation two years ago in a person walking through now would already see some changes then. Yes, they would they'd be able to look at our water tower. We are now in the process of building an upper and a lower school and within the months time. We'll be building our new Health Care Facility here at district one. It looks like we've already got a caller on the line. Go ahead. What's your question, please I have to question. I have concerning the Constitutional Amendment that just happened in Wisconsin to limit gaming particular comedian aiming any of the lists are any of the persons are that you have can respond to whether or not that would occur in Minnesota and But effective what that haven't talked to a first for that's a very good question. (00:27:41) First of all, it's not entirely clear what impact that Constitutional Amendment will have an Indian gaming Wisconsin that that really needs to be sorted out here in Minnesota a couple of things. First of all, the compacts that we've entered into with the state of Minnesota are Perpetual in nature are not limited to a term of years. I think that's a significant difference and in addition to that. We're working very very hard to demonstrate that Indian gaming is an overall benefit to the state of Minnesota. I think we've done a good job of making that point up until now as Leonard pointed out earlier, we've created between twelve and fifteen thousand jobs in the state of Minnesota in areas where traditionally it's been very very difficult to create jobs put simply. It's the best Economic Development tool that rural Minnesota has ever had and I think that we're doing a good job of telling that story and people will come to recognize that it is a net gain for the state of Minnesota. (00:28:34) But is there is there some concern Tweet that at some point in the future either the law will change and restrict gambling to the point that the casinos won't survive or that the law would expand gambling so much that the casinos could no longer compete. Are are you trying to make Provisions for a future with no gambling in it? There's clearly some concern that that might happen. And yes the (00:28:53) answer to your second part of your question is alternative economic development is a very very high priority for the Mille Lacs band. We need to create a diverse and stable economy. But although we're worried that it could happen. Either of those things either gamut of gambling would be limited by law or expanded by law. We think that people will come to see that this is really a pretty good thing and we ought to keep things just the way that they are because that's what works out best for everybody. (00:29:17) What sort of window of opportunity Doug do you think that the casinos have? How are people I've heard the the amount 10 years batted around does that seem about right? (00:29:27) Well, that's just speculation and and it may be 10 years. I'd I think there's a very good opportunity that that that Minnesota will come to see that casino. (00:29:35) A (00:29:35) very good thing and that we ought to keep the status quo and I think we can do that into perpetuity. But we are making Provisions. We are aware that we're constantly under attack both at the Capitol in st. Paul and in Washington DC frankly. Sometimes people just don't like to see Indians be successful and a lot of them criticism is coming after us so we need to be prepared and we need to develop alternative businesses to create that stable and diverse economy. But again, I think that people will come to realize that Indian gaming is a net gain for the state of Minnesota and it's something that we really should (00:30:10) keep Senator Burg are you with (00:30:12) us? Yes, I am. (00:30:13) What do you think is the likelihood that at some point in the near future the Minnesota Government will do something that enables a restriction on Indian gaming. (00:30:22) Well, we have a I have a building in my committee right now that will be heard next year that after the year. It's a constitutional amendment that would outlaw gaming. in the state of Minnesota by 1999 now there's some significant legal questions about that because our compacts are somewhat different in Minnesota than they are in Wisconsin which had a termination date but there's also a question that if we Outlaw all gaming in the Minnesota that that may affect the casinos as well now, I think the casinos have been somewhat their worst enemy as far as public relations are concerned and I think it is not necessarily the Indian people that are at fault but the management teams and I did and it deals really with greed and this is this practice of going around the country picking up busloads of people out of the communities bringing them to the casinos with the with the idea that they come and have cut-rate meals there and and they have to stay at the casinos for a certain number of hours and of course while you're At a casino after you've eaten you're not just going to sit there. You're going to play some of the games but it's Sunday aside. These ideas is these ideas that just make the hospitality industry Furious and it's having an effect on the legislators (00:31:52) because the government wanted to pull the plug would would outlaw gambling entirely be enough to do that or would there have to be other (00:31:59) maneuverings? Well, I had the that's the question and the idea being that if we outlawed all gaming in the state of Minnesota that the Indian gaming would be outlawed as well. Now there is a legal question on that but there is I think there's votes enough and both the house and the Senate to do just exactly that in Senator. You think it would be quite a good idea to eliminate 15,000 jobs and outstate Minnesota Doug, you know, I have not opposed you having a monopoly on gaming in the state of Minnesota in the past and I probably Wouldn't in the future but some of the practices that go along with that. I've been really opposed to and I've and I've told you and other people involved in the casino gaming that you have to be really careful. You don't raise enough iron amongst the rest of the hospitality industry that they try to close you down. And I really am afraid that that's what's happening. (00:33:00) Let's go back to the phones and take another question. Hello. You're on the air. Hello. I'm calling from Red Wing Minnesota and rather surprised that the operation at Prairie Island community has not been included in the survey because the impression here is that they are doing an excellent job. They have done a super job with a community Senator Center and they're managing their own casino and I believe they are Distributing to their members. I wonder if anyone has anything further information on the Prairie Island. Community (00:33:36) well, I have attended I've been down sanitary Island facility and from all I know it is a well run facility. I have stopped at Mystic Lake at least on two occasions. I believe three and and I have been to the facility at Hinckley and also to the one on the west side of Mille Lacs Lake. So I visited most of the Indian casinos as far as I know they the internal operations are good and the casino but I know the best is Mystic Lake and the the operation of that casino. I know the best and it's rather highly regarded amongst the entire legislature or anyone at least it's been down there. (00:34:25) Okay, let's go back to the telephones and take another question. Hello. What's your question, please? I'm calling from Fargo North Dakota. And my question is how realistic is the concern about infiltration by organized crime. And is there any evidence that this has occurred? We're wait. Would you like to (00:34:42) go ahead and somebody else can the latter part of the answer is that there's been one instance in the whole United States of America where there has been some attempt by organized crime to infiltrate an Indian casino and that was taken care of right away because the Indian tribe itself acted swiftly to make sure that it didn't happen. We here in Minnesota are very very concerned about that. We're just simply not going to let that happen because in order for us to continue to benefit from Indian gaming we have to keep our operations as squeaky clean as squeaky clean gets and we're dedicated to doing that. We're working very very hard with the Minnesota attorney general's office of the US attorney's office will be working with the national Indian gaming Commission in addition to tribal regulation to make sure those types of things don't happen to our industry (00:35:26) Lenny Prescott. Did you want to add anything to that? It sounds as though we're having a little bit of trouble reaching Leonard Senator Byrd. Were you about to jump in (00:35:33) there? Yes, I think up until this time. These operations are clean from any mob activity and there and I will say that if there ever was any evidence of it, that would kill Casino gaming immediately. (00:35:50) Okay, I think we have another caller on the line with a question. Go ahead please I'm wondering what percentage of payout do the casinos give on this love fishing action, like for every dollar put in what what is paid (00:36:03) out Doug tweet our compacts with the state of Minnesota require the payout to be somewhere between eighty percent in 97% My understanding of the gaming industry is that most casinos tend to pay out toward the upper end of that Spectrum in the 93 to 97 percent range. (00:36:21) So you're managing to make those those startling profits despite the fact that that percentage of money goes back to the gamblers and pay out. (00:36:29) The idea is that we want people to come here and have a real good time. We don't want people to come in here get off a bus and lose all their money in 10 minutes and not have a good time. So what we tend to want to do is we want people to stay around and get their entertainment dollars worth and when we look at the numbers that suggest that the average customer losses between 25 and 30 dollars we But that's a very comparably priced entertainment alternative. (00:36:53) Is that about where you'd like to keep it or would you like to see people people spend a little more money at the casino. (00:36:58) We're very comfortable with where it's (00:36:59) at because that that way that helps to to ensure that people are only gambling what they can afford and helps the reputation then of the casinos. Yes. Okay. Do we have another caller on the line? Okay. Go ahead, please I guess I was wondering if if they are setting aside any money to take care of the people. I like for instance. There are coholic problem that they have do they have a place where they can go and get help for that or for whatever family problems they have and so on that type of thing do they put money away for I feel like that's real important to take care of the people themselves Mille Lacs tribal official Bernita Churchill. Would you like to respond to that? Yes. Thank you. The The Mille Lacs band has developed a net revenue allocation schedule in which a percentage of that money goes back into the community which is enhances our community programs and 25 25 cents of each drink that sold at the Grand Casino Hinckley is donated to our chemical dependency division here at the Mille Lacs reservation and that has enabled the program to better serve our community members. Are you seeing do you think any differences in reservation life because of those sorts of programs? Well, I think it's been able to enhance and we've been able to provide better services to our band members that are living here on the reservation. Yes, it has to ask a question Charlie burn (00:38:30) and that is now I noticed the meals up at Mille Lacs you charge a 5% tax on those and I presume that goes to the band. What is that used for is that used for education or what is the purpose of that 5% tax that that's General government purposes Which would include education Social Services all kinds of other things that the government of Malik's is responsible for providing to its people we are in the process Senator as you're well aware of renegotiating those tax agreements with the State Department of Revenue to come up with a tax sharing agreement of that equitably serves the needs of the state and the needs of the Mille Lacs (00:39:09) band the point being that then the Mille Lacs band would actually be providing some tax money to the state even though it's is it not required to (00:39:16) well. It's not required to now but Indian tribes in the state of Minnesota have voluntarily entered into tax sharing agreements and we're now in the process of renegotiating those agreements and I don't think that we're going to have any trouble coming up with a formula that meets the needs of the state and the Indian tribes in (00:39:34) Minnesota what has to happen as far as renegotiating those agreements. When does that come up again? (00:39:39) It'll probably come up sometime toward the end of Mega going into the (00:39:42) summer this year then so do they run out this year (00:39:47) they expire In July in the State Department of Minnesota Revenue has given notice to tribes that they do not intend to renew the existing agreements. Hoping that we would be able to negotiate different agreements with the state but doesn't pertain mostly the cigarette taxes it pertains to all Texas Senator sales tax a cigarette and liquor tax motor excise tax all kinds of taxes. (00:40:14) Let's take another question from a caller. Where are you calling from? I'm coming from South Central Minnesota. And I want to thank you for a program like this the interviews with the native peoples and giving them an opportunity to express their concerns on both sides, but also the interviews about where they live and how they live and is really what I like to hear about as a kid and I'm almost 50 now. I was raised in an era where getting to know native people was clouded with fear and must must much misinformation. So I'm really eager to learn. More about you know, real people. My question is I was wondering if there is a way to support the native concern in view either financially or with a letter of support on this issue up at Mille Lacs Lake this gaming issue. And is there a way to give some support to their concern? Well, my guess would be that Doug Dwight would be only too happy to tell you how you can do (00:41:13) that. Well, I would suggest that you call Senator Charlie Bergin down to the state capitol and let him know how much you supported me and gave me well Doug. You've known me long enough. Yeah, you know, I have no objection to your Indian gaming and I think the air caller is is referring to some other subject. I think Senator, we're more than happy to sit down both with your committee and the hospitality industry in the state of Minnesota to really make Indian gaming work for everybody and we're committed to that as you are Doug. Have you (00:41:48) The senator what about the issue that the caller brings up of whether have the casinos actually work to the advantage to some extent of Indian tribes in they have brought Indian people into more prominent than that more more of us are getting to know each other. Is that has that been an important change for Anita? Well, I think that we have to remember that, you know here at Mille Lacs. We have at least three thousand band members that we are that are currently enrolled here at Molex and you know, we can talk about how much you know revenue is that we've created and generated over the years, but I think that we have to keep and we have to keep in mind and we have to remember that, you know, it's going to take us a lot many many years, you know to be able to bring up our standard way of living, you know to You Know Much Greater level and there's so many needs out there, you know education housing natural resources elderly housing, you know, there's a lot of issues that we have to address here at the tribal government level that well, you know be able to enhance the the way of life that our band members. Are you know are seeking to you know seeking to obtain? Let's go back to the telephones for another question. Hello. Where are you calling from? Yes. I'm employee of Mystic Lake Casino. Mmm, and I'd like to talk a little bit about the hospitality industry. Some of their problems about people being picked up the restaurants and bars in rural areas. Keep your comments brief that'll help us to I get as many people on as possible. Okay, first of all, restaurants and bars rural areas, they are declining in sales because DWIs drinking isn't socially accepted like you used to help baby boomers are getting older and the trend is in the liquor industry and beer industry. I work for a brewery for 10 years is that there has been a steady decline for 10 years. And if you look at the rural areas people are moving out of those areas or depressed. That's one reason why bar owners are having these buses pick up people at their places because they got to bring people into the Door so that he lets us come. Let's ask Charlie Berg to respond to that that argument that in fact the hospitality industry that's losing is losing not because of Indian casinos, but because of other factors (00:43:58) well that these there certainly is a number of other factors, but the when the people are picked up at the by the bus 40 50 people and the only reason they come in the bars go to the bathroom, you can see why it's makes the bar owners discussed it when the bus picks up people at Chicago for instance or Morris. They're on the bus for about an hour and a half to go to Jackpot Junction. They get out of their cars they get on the bus and they leave the area. They have to stay at the casinos 4527 hours. Then they come back. They're tired. The only thing that come into the bar for zagore the to the washroom, and then they go home and you can see what it would make my bar owners or supper club. Is angry because that's their only source of income is for those people to come in and spend some money under their stablishment and when they spend it all someplace else not only the money that they had their pocket at that time, but probably went to the cash card machine or wrote some checks down there besides and I'm guy money for the rest of the week. You can see why people get (00:45:11) disgusted. Let's ask Doug quickly to respond to that and then let's move on to some more calls as we only have about 10 minutes left. I'm a little confused Senator these people (00:45:21) heard it on the buses against their will and involuntarily with stone of these casinos know they're enticed on by few free bucks to spend at the blackjack tables or at the at the slot machines offered a free meal to go or a cut-rate meal and offered a free Transportation or a $10 for Fortran. Predation costs and the people that are arranging the tours are getting paid so much ahead for bring him down to the casinos and it just sounds like to me what we're doing is competing for the entertainment dollar. Yeah. It is by offering either Cut Rate or are free freebies to entice these people out of the area. (00:46:08) We've got a lot of people on the line. Let's take another call. What's your question, please? I just have a comment for Senator Berg and that is that I've been I've been doing some reading in the paper and following on the televisions and some of the hearings and first off he makes a lot of comments that are based on generalities instead of fact, one of the comments you had on the program from another participant had to do with the percent of increase in business in private establishments. I believe he said something like 10% in the area where they were Keen casinos and 7% elsewhere, but then he was ahead and he sponsors Bill 104 based on these generalities. To to expand gambling throughout the state. That's not true. Senator Burr. Go (00:46:53) ahead. That's not true. Senate to file 104 was a bill to allow mechanical pull-tab machines into and to establishments where they're already legal to cut down the insider trading and it's an enforcement tool that was was desired by the gambling regulation board, (00:47:12) but I feel had another component (00:47:14) to it, but that was not mine and I didn't even vote for the (00:47:17) bill it was and that was vetoed in committee, but I (00:47:20) know it was not vetoed in the committee it past the gambling committee with me voting No and went to the governmental operations committee where instead of taking out just a paragraph of the bill that dealt with the governmental operations committee the killed the whole (00:47:34) bill. Does it look as though that Billy's dead for the year then well that bill is dead. I want to finish my comment. The other thing is and I listen to you hear on the radio and you say then on the other hand now in 1999, you're going to Outlaw gaming put it up as a referendum to outlaw. (00:47:49) I didn't say that all I said there's a bill laying in my committee sponsored by another Senator that that's what it would do. We are not going to hear the bill until next (00:47:57) year. What your position is and I think and I as I listened to the government operations and reform committee today. They talked about the cost that it would that would be they would go to each of the establishment owners of these private businesses. If you put in if this two-year trial period had gone through or video machines were installed and then they'd have to be taken out and I think they quoted with six thousand dollars for a set up at an establishment per machine or something like that that included the video camera, but it let's let the senator Berg respond (00:48:28) to this and I don't know what she's talking about. That is not my bill. That is an amendment put on a bill that I was caring for. The mechanical pull-tab dispensers by Senator Bertram and Senator Dean Johnson from Wilmer and I voted against the bill. However, the bill passed the committee 723 and I had to carry it to the governmental operations committee, which was the next stop. (00:48:51) We've got just a few minutes left. So let's try and get as many calls on as we can. Hello. Where are you calling from Central, Minnesota? And what's your question, please? I wanted to direct it to the senator in reference to what I think is The White Man's gambling institution the state lottery where is all the money's gone that are generated from that my understanding was that they were to be put into ecological and environmental things to benefit the state and and I don't think that's happening. (00:49:27) Well 40% of the of the net proceeds are going in the environmental trust committee and out of that part of it stays in the environmental trust is a corpus vary by about 15 percent is used each year and will be used for five years for current environmental problems. And that money is all used for environmental projects one kind or another that are allocated through the, Minnesota. (00:50:00) I (00:50:00) forget the name of the committee right now. (00:50:02) But Dynamic anyone near the lottery was first introduced it was I know that I remember seeing how the money was to be pied up and and a much bigger percentage of that pie was to go to these concerns and and it seems every year that that number or that pizza pie is getting smaller and (00:50:24) smaller. The reason being that it's getting smaller. It's the LCM are that designates the projects, but the reason it's getting smaller is because the amount of prizes given out by the lottery are taking a bigger percentage of the total take because in order to compete with all the gambling they've had to increase their their prize money in order to get any (00:50:45) sales. We've got just two minutes left. Let's see if we still have time to take another call. Go ahead, please. Yeah. I have a real quick question. We have a cabin north of Mille Lacs Lake Indian casino has just been great for the people in the area whites and Indians alike. The only objection I have is leery of public relations Is it possible to turn off the spot lights in the sky? We will count go up there to see the moon and the stars and always hear the spotlight. I thought we might get a question to that effect, but wants to take that one dog (00:51:13) toys are Commissioner of Natural Resources add-on wait'll held a public hearing on the issue and receive testimony from a number of people some in support of the lights many opposed to it based on that testimony. We're going to come up with what we think is a very very good (00:51:29) compromise. What would that compromise be having them on some nights and not others. It'll be something along those lines. Yes. Okay. Looks like we might have time for one more question. Let's try it. Go ahead, please. Is there a caller on the line with a question? I'm on there. Okay, what's up yet? You certainly are what's your question please? I can't help it saying I'm a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant and I think our Minnesota politicians are nothing but sour grapes and like the president ran States said you people just don't get it. Goodbye. And thank you Catherine Catherine. Yes, Leonard Prescott Leonard we have about 30 seconds. Have you got a 30 second (00:52:13) comment? I just wanted to point out like 10 years ago when we had a dirt road going into the community. We ask this the local community to pave it. They said it wasn't in their strategic strategic plans until 2025 five years later. We asked to pay half of it and they still said it was not in their strategic plan to 2025. Well, when we decided we would pay the whole thing, they accepted that deal and and we paid it. So how many years ahead of our time are we are we 40 years ahead of our On that when the sewer and water projects that are out there but the housing development in the social services, whether you're a large reservation, whether you're a small reservation how many years ahead of our time are we because of this income and and the things that are happening I think are very good on reservations and need to continue. My said Leonard our (00:52:55) to continue taking calls. I'm afraid we have to end here. I want to thank all of our guests for being here and thank everyone who called into that brings us to the end of our special Main Street radio broadcast from the Mille Lacs Chippewa reservation. I'd like to thank each of our guests Leonard Prescott chairman of little 6 Incorporated and former chairman of the Shakopee mdewakanton Sioux state. Senator, Charlie Berg who's chairman of the Senate gaming regulation committee duct wait the corporate commissioner for the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa and Mille Lacs tribal official Bernita Churchill. Thanks to our technical director Scott Yankees and Rob heads in ski here at Mille Lacs and to Randy Johnson in st. Paul. Thanks also for technical assistance from monitor radios broadcast studios in Washington DC our assistant producers today were Sasha aslanian and Mike McCaul penguin the program Produced by Sarah Mayer John be one and lay finger and was edited by Kate moose special. Thanks also to the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa support for today's Main Street radio broadcast is provided by the blandin foundation helping to build communities throughout Minnesota with Rachel Reedy. I'm Catherine winter.