House Majority Leader Al Carlson Proposes Allowing State-Owned Casinos

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) speaking as Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) looks on.

The one thing I dislike about the North Dakota Lottery – aside from the fact that it amounts to a tax on people who can’t do math – is that it represents the government running a gambling enterprise even while private sector gambling is illegal.

If it’s ok for the state to operate a gambling enterprise, why not the private sector?

Now House Majority Leader Al Carlson wants to take the state’s monopoly on gambling a step further with legislation allowing up to half dozen state-owned casinos. It’s HCR3033, which you can read in full below.

The facilities couldn’t be within 20 miles of an Indian reservation – the tribes already run a half-dozens casinos of their own and probably aren’t going to like the idea of new competition – and couldn’t be located in a community with more than 5,000 people in it.

I wonder what happens, though, if they located a casino in a city that went on to grow its population pass that 5,000 threshold. Would the casino then become illegal?

Anyway, this is a proposed constitutional amendment, and it would have to be approved on the statewide ballot if approved by lawmakers. But I don’t see lawmakers approving it.

Nor should they. Why should the state get a monopoly on gaming? If we’re going to allow gaming – and we already do with the charitable gaming in the state’s bars plus the reservation casinos – why not let the private sector run it?

If we’re going to do anything with gambling policy in North Dakota we ought to just legalize it.

Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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