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Tribe says Twin Cities casino could help fund Vikings stadium

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Leaders of northwestern Minnesota's White Earth Tribe tried Thursday to breathe new life into a previously unsuccessful request for state support for a new casino in the Twin Cities area by suggesting it as a way to raise money for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

White Earth chairwoman Erma Vizenor, at a Capitol news conference, said the 20,000-member American Indian tribe -- the state's largest -- has desperate needs in health care, education and housing on its rural reservation about 250 miles northwest of Minneapolis. The tribe wants state lawmakers to vote to let them open a casino in the much more heavily populated Twin Cities, which Vizenor said would raise enough money to both alleviate tribal poverty and cover a taxpayer share of a stadium project that's likely to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Vizenor said an estimate prepared for the tribe a few years ago said such a casino would clear $300 million in profit a year, which Vizenor said could be split 50-50 between the tribe and the state.

Supporters of the proposal face an uphill battle. A similar tribal casino bid in 2005, backed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, died in a Senate committee after meeting heavy opposition, not just from opponents of expanded gambling but also other Minnesota tribes that already own casinos near the Twin Cities.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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