Electronic pulltabs may soon be in Minnesota's game

Electronic pulltabs, the white knight of Vikings stadium funding, could be installed in bars and restaurants as soon as Sept. 18.


Electronic pull tab games will soon be available to the Minnesota public.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Minnesota's first electronic pulltab games, intended to pay for a third of the Vikings stadium, are undergoing their final testing in Roseville and at a high-security gambling laboratory in Las Vegas.

If all goes as planned, the games will be approved Sept. 18 and will be available immediately to bars and restaurants that run charitable gambling.

"This is a pivotal week," said Tom Barrett, executive director of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, which will vote Sept. 18 on the new games.

"We're in the final stages of testing. When we have that final report in hand [from Gaming Laboratories International in Las Vegas], and when we're satisfied internally with our own review ... then we're ready to go, if all those things line up."

The five video pulltab games being tested -- with names such as Big Money Heist and Mystic 7 -- are just the beginning. Another nine manufacturers have expressed interest in making hand-held pulltab games for Minnesota, said Barrett. Four already have submitted applications to the Gambling Control Board.

The Legislature approved a dramatic expansion of pulltab gambling last session to pay the state's portion of the Vikings stadium, about $350 million of the $975 million pricetag. Previously, only paper pulltabs had been legal in Minnesota, used by roughly 1,200 charities and nonprofits to support everything from Little League teams to VFWs.

Minnesota, a national leader in paper pulltab use, is poised to be the national leader in electronic pulltabs, offering more games and more locations than any place in the country, said John Acres, president of the Las Vegas-based company, Acres 4.0, that manufactured the initial games.

"When and if the board approves the games, we'll go live in three locations," said Acres, who said he did not have information on the precise locations.

That number could explode in the week ahead, depending on the number of nonprofits that install the new iPad-like games. The habits and preferences of Minnesota's initial players will be monitored by the game manufacturer.

"We have long experience in the casino business, we know what consumers want," said Acres. "But we don't know if that's the same as in neighborhood bars and restaurants running charitable gambling. The first few months will be a period of adaptation."

State is testing, too

While game makers are watching consumers, the state is watching the security features on the video games, scouting out potential opportunities for fraud, errors or just lack of clarity to consumers.

In Las Vegas, testers will vet features such as whether the games pay out the correct amount of money, whether the software is hacker-proof and whether the games produce random winners, said Gary Danger, compliance officer at the Gambling Control Board.

"Just like pulltabs are put in bins and shuffled, these have to be randomized as well," he said.

Meanwhile, at state gambling control offices in Roseville, regulators such as Danger are checking to make sure the games contain features required by Minnesota law, and that they make sense to players.

Danger and his staff get the job of playing video games every day -- while being paid.

"We're looking at things such as, 'Are they adding and subtracting correctly?'" said Danger. "'If there is a winner, how is he identified?' 'Is all the information that is now displayed on a paper pulltab on the electronic pulltabs?'"

Real-time info for regulators

Danger also is monitoring the electronic reports generated by the games, which for the first time give gambling regulators access to real-time information on sales, prizes paid and taxes paid.

Gambling officials already have hired three employees to handle the new games, said Barrett. Another three are on the way.

Meanwhile, the state is in the process of conducting criminal and financial background checks on the other nine game manufacturers who want to enter the Minnesota market.

The growing interest by games manufacturers was good news to the approximately 1,200 local nonprofits that run gambling booths in the state. Charities have been wary of launching the games quickly, he said, because they worry about potential costs and taxes.

"This makes things more competitive," said Ray Bohn, spokesman for Allied Charities of Minnesota. "But there are still a lot of unknowns."

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
Washington 3
LA Angels 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
Texas 6
Oakland 6 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Indiana 107 FINAL
Milwaukee 111
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Carolina 5
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Washington 3
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 4 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 2
Nashville 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
NY Rangers 5 FINAL
Ottawa 1
Florida 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
Montreal 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Colorado 4 FINAL
Vancouver 1
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
North Carolina 72 FINAL
Wisconsin 79
Evansville 89 FINAL
Louisiana 82
West Virginia 39 FINAL
Kentucky 78
Xavier 60 FINAL
Arizona 68
St Johns 55 FINAL
Villanova 63
NC State 79 FINAL
Temple 80
Missouri 55 FINAL
Michigan 65
Oral Roberts 64 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Duquesne 39 FINAL
West Virginia 60
Ole Miss 70 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 82
Northern Colorado 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 69
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question