Gov. Mark Dayton and some legislators are suggesting that electronic pull-tabs - in effect, slot machines - would be a good a way to raise money for a Vikings stadium. Have the governor or those legislators ever asked anyone in the business of selling pull-tabs what they think? I'll bet not.
I have been in this business for many years and am at present a gambling manager for the Burnsville Lions Club. (The opinion I express here is mine only.)
Pull-tabs are a social form of gambling. Most people buy them at a bar, where they can have a drink and meet and socialize with friends. I have asked many of my customers if they would play pull-tabs on a machine, and the answer was no. Their ages ranged from 21 to 42. Several of them said that if they wanted to play a machine, they'd go to a casino.
Allied Charities of Minnesota is pushing to get electronic pull-tabs. I have attended its conventions and several meetings. The people I talked to at the conventions were not interested in it.
I do not know how much these machines would cost, but I imagine that the charities would lease them. There you would be cutting into your charitable gambling monies. The state would not care, because it knows it will get its money even if the charity loses money. The state taxes you on what you sell, not on what you make.
Having electronic pull-tab machines in every bar, restaurant, convenience store and whatever will turn Minnesota into another South Dakota, with small casinos in every little town. Is this what the people of Minnesota want?
No one has ever proved that these machines would even be successful. Why would our governor and legislators rely on something unproven -- that in fact would probably fail to earn nearly enough money to build a stadium?
I would ask the governor and legislators to think about it, and talk to people in the business. I know many of them think gambling is the answer. Electronic pull-tabs are not. If you must have electronic gambling, put it in a downtown Minneapolis casino or at a racino. Not in every town throughout Minnesota.
Roger Richter, gambling manager for the Burnsville Lions Club, is a source in MPR's Public Insight Network.