Legislators in the Minnesota House passed their big tax bill early this morning, and it's soon to be a whole new day for Vikings stadium funding.
The measure includes the provisions that back up the gambling revenue with new cigarette and corporate income taxes. When it gets passed, as expected, by the Senate, electronic gambling won't be under as much pressure, as state officials look for more than $30 million in new gambling taxes to make mortgage payments for the stadium.
"That is very good news for us," said Al Lund, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota. The group represents about half of the 1,200 charitable gambling operators in the state. "What it does is help take the pressure off charities, and now will allow us to get the whole electronics, to find our sea legs. Be able to get on our feet here,and have a little time to work through the issues that we've all had. And the pressure of looking at these numbers daily, seeing how much we'll be contributing to the stadium fund, is going to be off of us."
Lund said he'd still like to see electronics succeed. For one thing, rising tax receipts mean charities are making more money and have more to give to their charitable causes. And, he said, change is inevitable:
"We love paper (pulltabs). Paper is a huge part of our business today. But over time, things like electronics are going to be what will bring us into the future. And one of my roles is preparing us for the next 20 to 30 years. And electronics are going to be a major part of that."
That could start soon. Missouri-based Electronic Game Solutions got their electronic bingo game approved by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board this morning. The games were projected to be in as many as 1500 sites when they got up and running. But a year after the bill was passed, there were just 31 sites at the end of last month.
Sean Sullivan, vice president at EGS, says they're hoping their distributors can get as many as 50 sites a week up and running.