Lawmakers explore ways to boost sales of e-pulltabs to fund Vikings stadium

The panel heard ideas for pumping up enthusiasm for the games.

hide

Tom Barrett of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board updated a House committee on the status of sluggish electronic pulltab revenues on Tuesday.

Photo: GLEN STUBBE • gstubbe@startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Before Minnesota takes dramatic steps to shore up Vikings stadium funding, it should search for ways to boost public enthusiasm for the electronic pulltab games that were slated to fund it, according to discussion at a key House committee meeting on Tuesday.

Can charities or e-game vendors crank up their advertising budgets so bar patrons know where the games are and how to play them?

Can bars not be required to also sell paper pulltabs if they want to experiment with the high-tech games?

Should Minnesota end its exclusive distributor clause with games manufacturers, allowing more vendors to sell all games to different charities?

These were among the ideas aired at the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, which oversees the charitable gaming industry. Committee Chair Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, said he has not sponsored legislation to tackle the dramatic shortfall in e-game sales in order to give time for key players to find their own solutions.

“By design, we do not have a specific bill before us today,” Atkins told the committee. “That would be the next step, if there are ideas that appear to have enough committee interest to merit further consideration and public input.”

Under the Vikings stadium funding formula approved last year, taxes on the sale of electronic pulltab games and e-bingo were slated to drive the state’s $348 million share of the stadium costs.

But the original revenue estimates proved to be wildly inflated. The $34 million that was projected to be raised by the end of this year has been slashed to $1.7 million.

Lawmakers are considering other revenue sources, including taxes on professional sports memorabilia and placing video slot machines at Running Aces horse track outside Forest Lake. But a top charity leader urged the committee to give the electronic games time to gain momentum, and, if necessary, approve a short-term solution to fill the funding gaps until that happens.

“We would like to see solutions coming from non-gaming ideas,” said Al Lund, who spoke before the committee. “We don’t want to see an expansion of gambling. Any expansion would be competition [for charities] and would seem like punishment for a problem that charities do not see as their fault.”

Slow increase

Tom Barrett, executive director of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, provided an update on the electronic games. After relatively flat sales from November to January, e-pulltab sales reached $2.4 million in March, he said. Gross sales since the games rolled out in September were $10 million.

About 85 percent of that money is returned to players as prizes.

While sales in many of the 200 bars and restaurants with the games are lagging, at least 10 sites across the state enjoyed more than $40,000 in gross sales in March, Barrett said.

Atkins asked whether the high-performing sites could offer any lessons for the others. He also wondered whether high-performing sites could be allowed to offer more games than the current law permits. Bars with seating for 200 patrons or more can now have six e-pulltab devices and six e-bingo devices.

Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, asked whether it was possible to significantly ramp up electronic gambling at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which currently has just a few e-pulltab locations.

Atkins said he expected the committee would consider the different ideas and, at a future meeting, take action on those that make sense.

“I don’t think this is where it will end,” he said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Memphis
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 6:00 PM
American Univ
Wright State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Syracuse 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Delaware State 6:00 PM
NC Central
High Point 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Howard 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 6:30 PM
NC A&T
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Hampton 6:30 PM
SC State
Gardner-Webb 7:00 PM
Campbell
MD-Eastern Shore 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Savannah State
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
McNeese State 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Milwaukee 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 36 1st Half 1:43
Bryant 36
Central Conn St 27 2nd Half
St Francis-NY 21
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 3:00 PM
Wagner
Delaware State 3:00 PM
NC Central
Howard 4:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 4:30 PM
NC A&T
Hampton 4:30 PM
SC State
Norfolk State 4:45 PM
Savannah State
MD-Eastern Shore 5:00 PM
Florida A&M
Samford 5:00 PM
(25) Chattanooga
Prairie View 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 5:30 PM
Alabama State
Texas Southern 5:30 PM
Miss Valley St
(12) Texas A&M 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
Furman
Morehead St 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Illinois 6:00 PM
Michigan
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close