Reality Check: Rolling The Dice On Gambling Revenues

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — There has been plenty of talk at the Minnesota State Capitol about a new Vikings stadium and now gambling is back on the table.

Electronic pull tabs are emerging as a fundraising option as well as a possible gambling casino in downtown Minneapolis.

Gov. Mark Dayton said he wants all plans on the table by the end of this week, and will submit a Vikings stadium bill to the legislature on Nov. 7.

But how much gambling money is actually available in Minnesota right now? And which of the 50 states derives the most revenue from gambling?

It’s NOT Minnesota.


Minnesota’s near the bottom of states. Despite estimated billions of dollars wagered here, state government got $159 million last year.

Minnesota got most of its revenues from the state sponsored lottery with a total of $122 million.

A total of $36 million came from charitable gaming, specifically pull tabs. And about $1 million from horseracing.

What’s missing is that Minnesota’s Indian Casinos are not required to report revenues and they pay no money to the state.

That’s part of the compact Minnesota negotiated with Indian tribes.

But one recent report puts the total take at state Indian casinos at $1.5 billion.


Minnesota’s Indian gaming industry is the sixth largest employer in the state with 22,550 workers.

The number one state in gambling taxes from casinos? It’s not Nevada. It’s Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has a 55 percent gambling tax, taking in $1.5 billion from its 10 casinos.

That’s Reality Check.

Click on the links below for the sources Pat Kessler used for this Reality Check.

Gambling In Minnesota 2011 (PDF)
Gambling In Minnesota 2011 (PDF)
Sources Of State Revenue From Gambling
National Ranking of Gambling Revenues By State
Gambling Industry Revenues 2011
Minnesota’s Top Employers
Indian Gaming Economic Impact

More from Pat Kessler
  • Murph

    Instead of that why not just put a celestial map[moon position and north star}on all hunting licenses sleeves sold!The money saved on the annual lost hunter funding should help towards the goal.I am truelly amazed that people can get lost even with a compass on a clear night!There is simply NO EXCUSE for it! The state has to weigh what it gets for other advertizing versus critical information,but it makes more sense that what we have heard from them lately.Why have hunter expire from exposure when a little knowledge and common sense can help in so many ways!

  • Walter

    Why doesn’t Zygi pay for his own stadium? Why isn’t that a viable option? Why isn’t that discussed?

    He could rent the TCF stadium. It’s not used on Sundays.

    Why should the state mug the Indians and give him the money? Are Minnesota politicians really that sleazy?

  • jackactionhero

    I have heard enough of the bleeding heart liberals cry over Indian revenue loss. Maybe a little bit of healthy competition would improve the Minnesota gambling situation. Gambling will happen, why limit it to primarily benefit the Indians, why continue to have a Government that barely operates due to budget reform. Lets do some gambling.

    • Sandy

      Well, you haven’t thought of the loss of thousands of jobs that non-Indians will also lose statewide jackactionhero. It’s not ALL about the Indians here.



  • good times

    If the Vikings are such a huge money maker for the state, then they should be able to cover the cost of the stadium. I think the truth is that they are not a huge money maker and need the taxpaers money to pay for this very exspensive and non-needed stadium.

  • good times

    BTW, casinos will never fly in this state. The Indians have put way too much money in the Dems pockets for the Dems to ever allow this.

    • Mayhem

      please read up on news articles and get educated before posting your drivel…

      Its actually your GOP’s that wants nothing to do with state run casinos…probably for the simple reasons you erroneously stated about the Dems.

      you represent your party well.


      • Sandy

        Mayhem, its true about the Indians putting alot of PAC money to the legislators. Obviously, your not knowledgeable in politics. And, let’s be professionable about this and leave the name calling to the kids.

  • I'm Just Sayin'

    I like these half facts, they make picking them apart so easy, like “Minnesota’s near the bottom of states. Despite estimated billions of dollars wagered here, state government got $159 million last year.” Yet there is no mention that in the winter months, sun country, southwest and that peice of shiet Delta can not fly enough flights from MN to Vegas. Of course many go for the heat and to leave the cold, but they also gamble, a LOT.

  • I'm Just Sayin'

    “Minnesota’s Indian gaming industry is the sixth largest employer in the state with 22,550 workers.” That one is true, except most are part time and barely make a living wage. What is the latent demand for workers and how many more workers would be added with a downtown casino? We have not reached the point of diminishing returns yet on gambling employment, so a downtown casino will add more jobs and may even help the indian casinoes by making Minnesota and potentially Minneapolis the midwest gambling capital.

    • Sandy

      It’s true that most of the 22,500 workers are part time and barely make a living wage as I have family members employed at these casinos, but it’s a job. Jobs are scarce this year if you all haven’t noticed. Especially so in the northern part of the state of Minnesota. It maybe true that a downtown casino would add more jobs, but for the urban population, not the northern part of the state. It would take more jobs from the north.

  • Gordon says

    Minnesota’s debt has risen to almost $6 billion. Sorry to use the worn out phrase but all the legislature did during the last crisis was “kick the can down the road.” We still have nearly $6 billion in unresolved debt that will again bite us in the behind very soon. We can’t kick the can down the road much longer.

    The major point to be taken is want it or not, Minnesota can’t afford to make any contribution towards a new Vikings stadium, or any other private enterprise. Zygi has the money, he already has the revenue stream, and he has more than one viable option to build HIMSELF a new stadium if he wants to. The problem is, he doesn’t want to, not unless it’s done with someone else’s money, not his own.

    If governor goofy and the legislature give him our money, consider this:

    Let’s say you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in the neighborhood and your home has sewage all the way up to the ceilings.

    What do you think should be done…. raise the ceilings, or pump out the c-r-a-p?

    Election day is barely a year away now … who wants to get re-elected?

  • Shawn

    Let me get this straight, NO TAXES FROM THE INDIAN CASINOS?? YET THEY BRING IN A LOAD OF MONEY. you have go tobe kidding me. Bring ont he state run casino and let them cry about there loss of revenue for once. That treaty was signed years and years ago. Its time for “CHANGE ” remember!!!

    • Mayhem

      Its time for “CHANGE ” remember!!!

      Yeah, that was on a federal level and President Obama’s mantra.

      This isnt the 1870’s anymore where white folk can start saying “just kidding” again when it comes to breaking promises.

      However, theres nothing that says the state can’t build casinos…..Unless youre a republican

    • Gordon replies

      There are so many reasons that’s not a good option it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, a deal is a deal. The Indians made many concessions to get what MN gave them. Just because they made it successful doesn’t mean we now have the option to take a big chunk of it.

      Instead, maybe his Zygiship should be taking his requests for monetary contributions to the Indians. Perhaps they would finance is stadium if Zygi would be willing to make some concessions to them and crack his own wallet open a bit.

      Having to resort to grabbing money from gaming endeavors only means we’ve already dug past the bottom of the barrel of options. That would lead a reasonable businessman to conclude “this is a bad deal and it shouldn’t be done.”

      Again, this whole thing is a matter of wants, not needs and Zygi has the money (as well as other viable options) available to him, Minnesota does not.

      • Mayhem

        Having to resort to grabbing money from gaming endeavors only means we’ve already dug past the bottom of the barrel of options. That would lead a reasonable businessman to conclude “this is a bad deal and it shouldn’t be done.”

        Cant tell how many levels of wrongness this comment is………..

  • I'm Just Sayin'

    re: Gordon says, Gordon, you are right, except the dems created the mess when they over rode a veto by Governor Pawlenty. So one party creates messes and the other party refuses to fix them. What to do, what to do?

  • Walter

    Do the media outlets get revenue from the Vikings?


    Then obviously their reporting is biased and slanted…even more than usual.

  • Fumble | Shot in the Dark

    […] spend about $1 billion in charitable gambling, which equals the comparatively paltry sum of $36 million in revenue.  The Vikings stadium, requiring $35 million a year to cover the State’s $348 million share, […]

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