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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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A closer look at racino

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
To the editor: I don’t support forcing local taxpayers to pay for a new Vikings stadium, especially in these tight economic times. I also don’t support the expansion of gambling (i.e. racino) to build a new Vikings stadium, or for any other purpose. I do support providing the public with an opportunity to vote on whether to expand gambling to help pay for a new Vikings stadium. I only ask that Minnesotans consider a few things when deciding if it is appropriate to head down this path. First, numerous studies indicate the gambling industry has a net negative impact on a state’s economic productivity. Economist Earl Grinols conservatively estimates that, on a national scale, every $46 of benefit from gambling results in $219 in social costs on society (it may be as high as $289). Gambling also concentrates wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of many, without producing a useable product in exchange and making it a poor economic model. In addition, the Minnesota Family Council and the Center for the American Experiment details several negative consequences gambling brings: political corruption, bankruptcy, crime, suicide and family problems. Treatment for gambling addiction in many cases is paid for with state tax dollars. These negative social, criminal and economic impacts are why societies seeking healthy families and communities traditionally have outlawed gambling as a vice. But proposals are being authored in our Legislature to use racino as a tool for economic growth. A report from the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota explains how the purported economic benefits of adding racinos do not add up. With the $5 billion shortfall we face in Minnesota, we need to concentrate on sound economic principles for true private-sector job growth and be leery of quick fixes to feed government growth. Especially if the quick fix is suspect. Sincerely, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen
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