A customer at Margie's Roosevelt Bar in Eveleth on Saturday won $71,054 playing an electronic bingo game — the largest jackpot ever for the charitable e-bingo business in Minnesota.
It was won by a regular customer at the bar playing the "Voodoo Guru" e-bingo game with her husband on one of the bar's three iPads, said bar owner Margie Koivunen.
"She looked down and said, 'I got it, I got it,' " said Koivunen. The money comes Wednesday, when the bar will host a media event and game organizers from the Twin Cities will drive up with the check.
Koivunen said the Roosevelt was among the first batch of bars and restaurants in the state to try charitable e-gaming. "It's really a fun form of entertainment," she said.
The five-figure bingo payout at her bar was from a progressive jackpot, meaning it grows from game to game until someone wins. To win a progressive jackpot, players have to satisfy certain requirements, such as filling their card with a limited amount of numbers.
The electronic gambling games earned notoriety early on after their initial sales fell well short of state projections; once considered a major funding source for the new Vikings stadium, the linked e-bingo and electronic pulltabs games were all but written off when customers were slow to pick them up.
Sales have grown this year, said Tom Barrett, of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board. The state saw $5 million in gross sales for the month of May, up from $1.2 million in July of 2014, the first month of the current fiscal year. Sales of all charitable gaming for Minnesota, including the highest grossing game, paper pulltabs, are running about 10 percent ahead of last fiscal year, he said.
The state saw just over $1.2 billion in gross sales for fiscal year 2014; the current fiscal year has $1.2 billion in sales already, with a few more weeks to go.
Some $7 million in proceeds went to stadium funding last fiscal year, he said.
There are about 225 sites in Minnesota that offer some form of electronic gaming.