Duluth business owner shows support for proposed for-profit casino

By KBJR News 1

August 26, 2014 Updated Aug 26, 2014 at 9:50 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Some Duluth business owners are getting behind the idea of a for profit city casino.

Some say the proposal could help smooth out crumbling roads while bringing in more business.

Duluth City Councilor Howie Hanson is behind the proposal for a casino that he says could generate funds to fix city streets.

"It could really resolve a ton of burden on our taxpayers right now," said Brian Daugherty, president of Grandma's in Canal Park.

Hanson says his idea would also have a major impact on the economy.

"It would create hundreds of hundreds of construction jobs. Instead of getting the 18%, the $6 million every year, we could be gaining upwards of $40-50 million a year as other city owned casinos are launching," said Hanson.

Daugherty sees the benefits too.

He recently wrote a letter to the City Council in support of the idea.

"I think the balance to fix our city's infrastructure is out of whack with the community's ability to pay for it. It makes sense if you think about it to try to replace the money that was taken from the city in the same manner it was derived; a casino," said Daugherty.

But not everyone is on board.

City Councilor Sharla Gardner feels the focus should instead be on resolving the current ongoing litigation between the city and the Fond du Lac tribe over profits from the Fond du Luth Casino on Superior Street.

"We're not in a place I think where we can be moving forward on something like this. There are a lot of legal barriers, not the least regarding state law issues and exclusivity agreements and all of that and so I just think the timing on this would be really poor," said Gardner.

The City Council tabled a vote on the proposal Monday, after Councilor Hanson revealed new, undisclosed changes are being made to the original proposal.

The City Council is expected to take up the issue again during its next meeting.

Elsa Robins