Duluth May Ask State For City-Run Casino

The Duluth, Minnesota city council may ask lawmakers to allow the city to run a casino in the downtown convention center. Duluth is seeking a way to make up for the $6 million in annual payments it received from the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Band's Fond du Luth casino (l.) before the tribe stopped making payments in 2009.

Since the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Band stopped sharing revenue from its Fond du Luth casino with the city of Duluth, Minnesota five years ago, the city has been seeking ways to make up for the million in annual revenue it used for street maintenance and repairs. Earlier this year the Duluth City Council voted to impose a fee on businesses and homeowners to replace the lost casino income. But now the Duluth City Council may consider a resolution asking the state’s permission to operate city-run casino. The action would require changing the Minnesota constitution.

City Councilor Howie Hanson said the new gaming facility, which would be located at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, could generate $12 million a year for the city and the same amount for the state, making it even more profitable for the city than the tribal partnership. “It’s about business, it’s about survival, and it’s about not taxing little old ladies,” Hanson said.

The city and the tribe still are battling over the issue in court; in March, the state Supreme Court ruled the case should be heard in federal court. Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver said the council’s resolution was simply “saber rattling. The gaming market is already saturated by existing mature operations. This notion of a partnership is a fallacy. We just plain paid them, sent them checks. That’s not a partnership. That’s alimony.”