Should Vikings Stadium #Wilfare Come from Embezzlement?

The nice thing about gambling is that it makes a community a ton of money with no downside. Right? Well, not exactly, as a quick search on Google News for “Embezzlement and Gambling” over just the past month reveals:

– Oct 27, 2011: A Northern California woman has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for tax evasion on millions of dollars she embezzled from her employers. She spent the money on gambling and expensive vacations.

– Oct 26, 2011: A Euguene, OR woman faces up to 30 years in jail and a $1 million fine for embezzling $146,000 from two credit unions. She used the money to support her gambling habit.

– Oct 24, 2011: A Carson City, NV woman has been arrested for felony embezzlement after stealing $1,120 from the fast food restaurant she worked at. She lost the money gambling.

– Oct 12, 2011: Brentwood, MO’s city administrator pled guilty to embezzling $30,000 from the city. He spent the money on gambling.

– Oct 7, 2011: A woman in Muskegon, MI has admitted to embezzling at least $10,000 from Muskegon’s Polish Union She attributed her embezzlement to a gambling addiction.

– Oct 6, 2011: A man is on trial in Milwaukee, WI for embezzling at least $35,000 from Oak Creek Youth Football. He used the money for gambling, vacations, car payments and personal expenses.

If we open a casino so we can subsidize the NFL, perhaps we too can see our local businesses, credit unions, affinity groups, and youth organizations pillaged to the Vikings’ benefit?

Another example of the “benefits” of casinos can be found in Maine, where they are currently debating expanding casinos in their state from 2 to 5. The head of CasinoNo! has an editorial in the Sun Journal reflecting on the lack of economic impact gambling has had in Bangor, ME:

In other words, that money was already in Maine’s economy, nothing was added. Instead of spending it downtown at retail shops, restaurants, car dealers and other businesses, people just ended up losing it in the slot machines.

That’s not economic development; that’s just a shell game. Economic cannibalism.

Yes, they have embezzlement problems as well:

As for the increase in crime, the story mentions a single case of embezzlement — a woman who stole $40,000 from her employer and lost it all playing the slots. But it fails to mention an even bigger case just a few weeks ago — a Holden woman who was convicted of stealing $400,000 and losing it all at Hollywood Slots. Or the apartment manager in Portland who stole more than $200,000 in rent collections and gambled it away at the Bangor casino.

There are other cases too, and probably many others that we don’t know about. Do the public officials who gloat about all the revenue the city collects from the casino feel good about the fact that a sizable portion of it comes from stolen money?

The nice thing for the Vikings is that their stadium would be paid for with casino earnings driven Wilfare whether the money is stolen or not. That’s not their problem. It’s ours.

The CasinoNo! article wraps up with a high level look at what the casino in Bangor has done for the community:

They promised jobs, but more people are unemployed today in Bangor than before the casino. They said crime wouldn’t increase — but it has, a lot. They said the casino would attract tourists, but it is mostly the locals who play. They said the casino would be an “economic engine” that would benefit every other Bangor business. But that’s not what the data says.

In my opinion, building a casino to increase public revenues would be a bad idea if the money went toward actual public needs. It’s an even worse idea if it’s done to provide subsidies to the National Football League. We’re better than that.

16 thoughts on “Should Vikings Stadium #Wilfare Come from Embezzlement?”

  1. If a person is stupid enough to get in over their head gambling, blame should fall on their shoulders, and no one else’s.

  2. @Rat, that rationale doesn’t help the businesses and organizations who were hurt by the addition enabled by the state.

    @Bill, embezzlement would surely increase if we increased the amount of gambling in the state. That doesn’t seem like a leap. It’s more like a climb up an obvious ramp.

  3. I heard one legislator put it very eloquently on the radio a week or so ago: Once the state of Minnesota becomes dependent on gambling revenue to fund the state budget, then they are necessarily in the role of promoting gambling.

    My question is whether promotion of gambling something that we, as Minnesotans, would under normal circumstances sit down and, after much rational discussion, and say to ourselves, “hey, how can we get our state on board with this important civic virtue of gambling promotion?”–or is getting the state into the business of promoting gambling instead something that we just turn a blind eye to, because some of us are willing to thrown any and all of our values under the bus for the sake of Zygi Wilf?

    And, yes, I feel that way about the lottery, as well.

    One particularly sad aspect of all of this is that there are apparently several prescription drugs out there now that have been linked to gambling addiction–these are drugs that, for instance, your Mom or Dad might be prescribed as they get older. This happened to an elderly relative of mine, and it was the source of a lot of misery. I don’t believe that, as a whole, Minnesotans are as hard-hearted as “Rat” is to people in these situations.

  4. @veg*nation I’m unaware of any drugs of that that type and I’d need some clinical evidence that prescription drugs, besides too much alcohol, could cause someone to become a chronic gambler. But thanks for the personal judgement. Very becoming of you. The best idea is: Don’t gamble, don’t fight, and don’t be hangin’ in the bars at night.

  5. @veg*nation, one of the drugs that has caused problems for people is Mirapex, which is used to treat people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. If we have enough Parkinson’s patients in this state, we should be able to strip them of their wealth for the Vikings’ benefit.

    @Rat, while you may not have known that, you could have in 30 seconds on Google.

    @Dave, yep. I think we’re extracting enough money from people who can’t afford it as it is.

  6. “If a person is stupid enough to get in over their head gambling, blame should fall on their shoulders, and no one else’s.”

    The same could be said of professional sports team owners who go begging for public funds so there investment has someplace to play.

    But the real question is – Should the public enable the vice of gambling and the associated costs to further enrich a millionaire?

    Since Major League Football teams seem to be profitable and the public is asked to fund a lions share of new stadium costs; Perhaps we should encourage Ziggy to take his franchise somewhere else and the community would be free to sponsor a new profitable publicly funded sports franchise to pay for a new stadium. Why not cut out the middleman? Maybe we could call them the Valkyries rather then the Vi-queens?

  7. Not sure if you agree with me or not on the gambling comment. But…

    “Should the public enable the vice of gambling and the associated costs to further enrich a millionaire?”

    Vice? Hmmm. Well, the state has enriched Indian tribes with the same approach. Enabling gamblers. Do you feel the same way about that?

    Maybe the Arden Hills site is out of the picture, now. But I don’t think Vikings fans need to lose hope. There are other options, private and public. In the end, it will get built.

  8. Rat,

    The state did not enable tribal gaming; those rights inhere to the tribes under treaties and federal law. It is a confusion of the issue (not to mention silly)to state, or think, that tribal gaming has anything to do with the financing of a stadium with the proceeds state-run gambling.

  9. I never said that tribe gaming had anything to do with financing the stadium. If you don’t think Mystic Lake, Treasure Island and that place in Hinckley doesn’t enable gamblers, I suggest you reconsider.

  10. A group of guys (or gals) sitting around a card table is harmless gambling. Slingo is harmless gambling. Organized betting that targets the finances of the poor and desperate is a vice. The harmful effects on society from organized gambling are well documented.

    Go out to the casinos and watch as room after room of mindless zombies hypnotized by the flashing and whirling computers feed cash and try to beat the odds in hopes of a jackpot that will enrich their lives. It’s sad to see who is financing this industry.

    Yes, I believe Indian gambling to be a vice. Kind of a cosmic joke that after years of maltreatment and broken treaties with the Indian peoples, that their path to prosperity should come from loopholes that allow millions of dollars to be sucked out of retirement savings and the household incomes of “American citizens”.

    This would be a very poor basis for public financing of a millionaires ambitions for greater profits through professional sports.

  11. I fell behind in my reading, but here’s my thought on this–
    –we are continuing down the slippery slope of turning our entire state’s economy into a non-productive churn of money-for-nothing predatory practices.

    This is lowest common denominator behaviour being used to fund another lowest common denominator behaviour. This produces nothing, enriches nothing, provides nothing but useless, time-filling, mindless entertainment under the guise of some twisted-logic value to our state.

    This is not a proud moment for our citizens to fall into this trap, here on the cusp of converting our society to green energy if we would only nurture and invest in it…INSTEAD we occupy our time arguing about how much to exploit bored and weak citizens of their cash to fund a new Billion Dollar Boondoggle Zygi-World for the Vikings.

    It doesn’t matter which proposal is chosen, or where it is built, any investment in the Vikings is a loss to Minnesotan’s future and our children’s future.

  12. The fact that a lot of people aren’t seeking to entertain themselves in ways that you see fit, and should be concentrating instead of green energy, is a more than a bit of an elitist attitude, Mike. But maybe you’re comfortable with that charge.

  13. @Rat, creating energy policies that reduce dependencies on dirty forms of energy, increase energy independence, and reduce asthma rates could be considered elitist, or it could be considered good energy policies.

    Or, we could spend money subsidizing a hand picked entertainment business at the expense of every other locally owned business that competes for discretionary income.

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