Duluth considers running its own casino

Fond-du-Luth Casino
The Fond-du-Luth Casino in downtown Duluth, Minn., is run by the Fond du Lac Band.
Dan Kraker/MPR News, file

City leaders in Duluth are considering a plan to open a casino at the city's convention center.

The City Council was scheduled to take up a resolution Monday evening seeking state permission to open a city-run casino. The move would require a change to the Minnesota Constitution.

A casino at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center could generate $12 million a year for the city and an equal amount for the state, according to City Councilor Howie Hanson.

Until five years ago, the city relied on income from a casino operated downtown by the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Band. But the band decided to stop sharing casino revenue with the city.

Duluth's share of that revenue, about $6 million a year, went to help repair city streets. The Duluth City Council voted earlier this year to impose a fee on businesses and homeowners to replace the lost casino income.

The city and the band are fighting in court over the casino revenue. Hanson said the proposal for a city-run casino is not a bluff.

"It's about business, it's about survival, and it's about not taxing little old ladies," he said.

Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver called the resolution "saber rattling." She said gambling revenues are "the only way we have to fund necessary services."

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