Electronic pull tab gambling still many months away

Electronic pull tab
Electronic pull tab gambling terminals will be installed in eligible Minnesota bars as part of a digital wireless upgrade of pull tab games. They would supplement, not replace, the paper versions.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

The plan to build a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis still needs a sign-off from the Minneapolis City Council. But the financing for the state's share of the construction is now state law, and electronic pull tab gambling is on its way. State officials picked taxes on electronic pull tabs and electronically linked bingo to pay the state's $350 million share of the project.

But King Wilson, head of Allied Charities of Minnesota, the trade group that represents more than 1,200 licensed gambling operators, says it will likely be months before the machines are available.

"I'm thinking its going to be fall, early winter. I think people are going to want to see them as soon as possible, but other than a couple of current manufacturers that might have the capability to do it, the other folks that have looked at this are folks that are going to have to be licensed, and go through that process," he sais. "You have to have a background check and things that need to be done through the normal channels of rules and regulation."

The law authorizes a maximum of 12 electronic pull tab machines in bars and restaurants, and 50 in bingo halls. But changes in how pull tabs are taxed -- both paper and electronic -- may reverse the recent decline of paper-based games with better payouts.

"We are going to, for the first time, be able to reexamine the current paper pull tabs we are playing, and I think many organizations are going to be able to play a couple percent, maybe 3-4 percent higher than they currently are, and the higher percent means more prizes, more winners, happier customers and hopefully more volume," Wilson said.

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