The first electronic linked-bingo games are being rolled out in the north Twin Cities metro Thursday evening, almost a year after the state legalized them to help pay for a Vikings stadium.
The first games are at Jimmy's Food and Drink in Vadnais Heights, the Running Aces harness park outside Forest Lake, and Blainebrook Bowl in Blaine.
Jon Latcham, owner of 3 Diamond Corporation, a games distributor, predicts electronic linked bingo will boost charitable gambling where electronic pulltabs have been disappointing.
"This was the one game that convinced me to even become involved in electronics," Latcham said. "And prior to that time, I was probably the biggest opponent of it."
Boosters said that electronic bingo, which will link games in bars and restaurants around the state, will eventually offer jackpots up to $75,000 and draw more gamblers than smaller pulltab prizes.
"We want to look at these three sites, learn from the mistakes that maybe some of the customers might make, or something that we didn't teach as well as we should have," Latcham said. "You know, use that, rather than just have a mass rollout."
Sales taxes on the electronic bingo and pulltab games have been pledged to pay for a $350 million state contribution to the new, billion dollar stadium project.