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Allegations of Racism Directed at Indian-run Casinos

November 16, 1993

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A former tour bus operator is suing an Indian-run casino, alleging it stopped doing business with him because his tours brought too many black gamblers.

Brent Johnson claims in his lawsuit that he is due more money from his contract with Treasure Island Casino in Red Wing. The Prairie Island Sioux, who run the casino, bought out his contract nearly a year ago.

Another tour bus operator, Jeet Scott, said in a deposition for the case that a busload of visitors, most of them black, had lost their money well before the end of a required 10-hour stay and an announcement on the public address system said: ″All blacks get out of here or you will get prosecuted 3/8″

Casinos sometimes offer incentives of $10 to $30 to gamblers on bus tours, then require a mandatory stay of several hours to ensure a return on their investment.

Casino spokesman Mike Wilkinson said race was not a factor in management’s decision to ask the tour group to leave.

They ″were not having a good time, and they were not gaming, and they were taking up space,″ he said. He said the casino subsequently reduced its minimum stay to five hours.

And, he said, it was a bus operator - not a casino employee - who made the announcement, and that the person didn’t refer to race.

Casino representatives deny Johnson’s claims and say he is simply trying to spread bad publicity to further his civil case in Hennepin County District Court.

The tribal council ″is very concerned and sensitive to the plight of other minorities,″ said Robert Grey Eagle, legal counsel for the tribe. ″We, being minority ourselves, understand the issues that confront us in greater society.″

While human rights departments in Minnesota and Wisconsin say no racial discrimination complaints have been filed, tour bus operators reported similar problems at other casinos, the Star Tribune reported in Monday’s editions.

The newspaper cited a separate incident involving Rainbow Casino in Nekoosa, Wis.

An internal memo from the casino talked of ″problems with the Vietnamese bus groups,″ the newspaper said. The casino manager said in the memo: ″They are filthy and I don’t want them in the casino.″

The manager was reprimanded and recently left the casino.

″We denounce the language of the memo and the attitude it represents,″ said JoAnn Jones, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Winnebago Business Committee, which owns the casino. ″We will not tolerate it.″

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