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Attorney General Ruling May Open Minnesota Casino Audits

18 September 2001

MINNESOTA –- As reported by (St. Paul, Minnesota) Pioneer Press: "A mountain of internal financial information about Minnesota's Indian gambling casinos could be made public Friday following a ruling by the Minnesota attorney general's office.

"But it's also likely that many or all of the state's Indian bands will go to court to block the release of tribe-conducted audits that have been collected by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety since casino gambling came to the state nearly a decade ago.

"…In a written conclusion sent to State Administration Commissioner David Fisher over the weekend, the state's top legal office said the audits must be made public under Minnesota open-records laws.

"…Gambling compacts reached between the Indian bands and the state required the bands to provide copies of audits if they were requested by the alcohol and gambling enforcement division of the Public Safety Department.

"But the compacts also said the audits should be kept confidential `to the extent possible under state law.'

"Minnesota has some of the country's strongest open-records laws, which provide few exceptions for disclosing information after it has been filed with a state agency.

"But the nonpublic classification of casino audits was not seriously challenged until last winter, when Bill Lawrence, editor and publisher of Native American Press-Ojibwe News, requested access to the audits.

"…John McCarthy, executive director of the [Minnesota Indian Gaming Association], said the information in the audits, if released, would disclose competitive business information and would be misused by gambling opponents…"

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