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Plains casino to stay put

The Plains Art Museum won't be looking for a new home for its charitable Blue Wolf Casino. Less than two months after the Fargo Expressway Inn said it would turn its facilities over to West Fargo youth charity Tech Team Wrestling in July, the hot...

The Plains Art Museum won't be looking for a new home for its charitable Blue Wolf Casino.

Less than two months after the Fargo Expressway Inn said it would turn its facilities over to West Fargo youth charity Tech Team Wrestling in July, the hotel signed a new lease with the Fargo museum.

The museum's casino staff of 38 will continue to run the south Fargo site, which features eight blackjack tables, a paddlewheel table and jar bar. But in a partnership deal with Tech Team, the museum will turn about 27 percent of the casino's profits over to the youth charity, Plains Executive Director Ed Pauley said.

"Tech Team did gain the lease to the site," Pauley said about the new arrangement. "For us being able to stay where we are, that percentage was worth putting forth."

The Expressway Inn, which recently changed owners, announced the switch to a new charity in April, after 25 years of the Plains managing the casino. Tech Team, a 5-year-old club, plans to share a portion of its gaming revenue with other area youth sporting clubs, benefiting an estimated 2,000 youths, said Tech Team Vice President Mason Mehring.

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"Sports in our community at the youth age are a big way of building character and self-esteem," said Expressway General Manager David Isaak about the choice of charity.

The Plains and Tech Team entered negotiations in April to allow both nonprofits to benefit from the site. North Dakota gaming regulations say two charities cannot share a lease on a site unless each brings in its own staff and equipment. The charity that runs the site, however, is free to share revenue with eligible charities.

"The Plains had the experience, and they had an ongoing relationship with the hotel that's valuable," said Tech Team's Mehring, whose organization makes its first foray into charitable gaming.

As these negotiations were under way last week, the museum announced a new charitable gaming location at the Bowler, just south of the Expressway Inn on University Drive.

This week's lease renewal brings the museum's gaming facilities to three - along with Big Top Bingo - in Fargo city limits. As recently as 2006, charitable gaming accounted for more than 50 percent of Plains revenue.

Pauley said the museum considered relocating Blue Wolf to a new site where the Plains would be the sole beneficiary of profits.

"We did look around, but there was nothing available," he said, adding, "It's a great relief that this has been resolved."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529

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