Gov. Mark Dayton said all sides acted "in good faith" in depending on new e-pulltabs to fund a Vikings stadium and must accept responsibility for the fact the games have produced a fraction of the revenue that was predicted.
"We're all in this together," Dayton said Tuesday. "We're all responsible for its creation." He said it is far too soon to panic about whether the games will eventually cover the state's share of the new stadium.
"We'll work this out," Dayton said. "It's not about pointing fingers about what happened last spring. Everybody acted in good faith. Unless somebody can prove conclusively otherwise, I would say everybody -- the gambling control board, the department of revenue, the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, and my administration -- everybody acted in good faith, and has applied their best judgment to a totally unprecedented situation."
At issue is the state's reliance on electronic pulltab gambling games that the Dayton and the Legislature approved last session to cover the state's $348 million contribution to a new Vikings stadium. The Star Tribune reported Sunday that gambling businesses with an interest in promoting the games helped produce the rosy estimates.
Initial estimates of $34 million, used to gather support for the stadium bill that passed in May of 2012, have since been cut down to $1.7 million. The number of bars installing the games has been less than one-tenth of the number projected. Dayton's revenue department and legislative researchers did not challenge the original estimates.
"We all new this was uncharted territory," Dayton said Tuesday. Because the games had not been tried in the state, Dayton said, it was appropriate for state gambling officials to ask for advice from the companies.
"They were creating something that didn't exist before, so you have to turn to somebody who has some knowledge and expertise," Dayton said.
"I don't know what caused it to go awry," he added. "I know we're going to work to correct it. I know the panic alarm is premature." He said a reserve is "covered," the stadium bonds won't be issued for some time and the legislation has backup revenue sources that could be tapped if the e-pulltabs fail. Backup funding plans include a sports-themed lottery and a stadium suite tax.
"The Legislature, if they misunderstood the situation, they have no one to blame but themselves," he said. "And I have no one to blame but myself."