Charities planning 8-city “road show” to promote new e-gambling

Allied Charities of Minnesota executive director Al Lund (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

It looks like electronic pulltabs and linked bingo are hitting the road next month.

Allied Charities of Minnesota, the trade group that represents about half of the state's 1,200 charitable gambling operators, says they're going to Rochester, Willmar, Marshall, St. Cloud, Fergus Falls, Bemidji, Duluth and the Twin Cities on an 8-stop road show.

Al Lund is executive director of Allied Charities. He says he thinks the games need a better introduction than they've had so far. He says they're going to bring manufacturers, distributors, charities and bars together to have an up-close and personal look at the games.

"I think that there are still a lot of charities that haven't really looked at it closely enough. I know that a lot of charities have their opinions," Lund said, speaking from a bingo convention in Biloxi, Miss., "But we just think this will be a time that they can come in actually and see the devices, see what they do, and talk to charities that have been involved."

He said they'll also have officials from the Minnesota Gambling Control Board and the state Department of Revenue to answer regulatory questions about the games.

Lund is scheduled to lay out the plan for legislators Thursday. The Legislative Commission on Sports Facilities is scheduled to hear from him, Vikings vice president Lester Bagley, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and Minnesota Gambling Control Board executive director Tom Barrett.

Allied Charities also is planning to set up a website for the public, so that would-be players can find where the games are and play them.

Supporters of the games have long complained that they don't have the marketing muscle of, for instance, the Minnesota Lottery, to draw attention to the games. They've brought in PR guru and former gubernatorial contender Tom Horner to help raise the profile of the games and win converts among the paper pull tab sellers who are skeptical about the new games.

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