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Rally against racinos


St. Paul, Minn. (KTTC) --

Hundreds of Native Americans, casino workers, and non-gambling advocates packed the state Capitol lawn Tuesday afternoon to protest against the expansion of gambling. The rally is the culmination of much talk of racinos and other legislation that would add gambling outside Indian reservations.

In fact, earlier before the rally, some lawmakers introduced a new proposal to allow video slot machines and other electronic gambling into bars and restaurants, upsetting many at the protest.

It seemed that every casino in Minnesota had representatives or employees at the Capitol steps. Many with signs that read "Don't Gamble with my job."

A little rain couldn't drown out the voices yelling outside the capitol. Hundreds of people in the gambling industry traveled from all over the state to tell legislators one thing.

"Today it's a racino, tomorrow it's gambling in bars, in restaurants, in possibly even churches across the state of Minnesota. We're opposed to that," says Kevin Leecy, the Tribal Chairman of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.

As lawmakers continue to talk more and more about expanding gambling to help offset some of its budget problems, those in the industry say they want to tell the other side of what a racino bill could do for casinos in rural reservations.

"Jobs, benefits, wages are going to be taken from the outlying areas of the state and disappear. There are no companies opening jobs, manufacturing jobs in rural Minnesota anymore," explains Cindy Taube with the Prairie Island Indian Community.

"They say it's going to garner more money for the budget. It's a small drop in the bucket compared to the loss of jobs for up to 41,000 people who are currently employed in the Indian gaming industry," says Leecy.

And some of the protesters here say, with gas prices so high, they highly doubt people will make the commute to the reservations if they don't have to.

Governor Mark Dayton said this afternoon he was open to a racino bill if it benefited education and job creation. However, he said the new proposal to add gambling in bars and restaurants would expand gambling too much.

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