Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration said Monday that state gambling regulators should have been more clear from the beginning that they relied heavily on gambling companies to estimate electronic pulltab revenue to pay for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
“There should have been more transparency in this part of the process,” said Katharine Tinucci, a Dayton spokeswoman. The governor “was not aware of the particulars of where the information was coming from.”
Dayton’s administration made the statement the day after a Star Tribune story disclosed that state gambling regulators relied on projections from pulltab companies that potentially stand to gain the most from the state’s expansion into electronic gambling.
Legislators relied on the numbers in the final weeks of a rancorous and high-stakes stadium battle in which Dayton staked enormous political capital in closing the deal and keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. Gambling regulators stressed to legislators and state officials that electronic gambling revenue would provide ample funding for the new stadium and boost the take for local charities that run the games.
In nearly a year, only about 200 of the 2,500 projected electronic gambling sites have come online, causing revenue to fall dramatically short of projections. Some have said the state might need to look at another source of money to cover the state’s $350 million share of the nearly $1 billion stadium.
Tom Barrett, executive director of Minnesota Gambling Control Board, said he shared the proposal with some gambling companies to see if they identified any deal-breaking problems with his projections.
No state had done what Minnesota was contemplating, Barrett said, so there was scant reliable information to build a business model with.
Gambling companies help refine the proposal, but “vendors did not drive the plan,” he said.
Barrett said they shared their methodology with legislators as they were racing to piece together a stadium agreement that could pass the GOP-controlled Legislature.