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By any measure, electronic pulltabs have been a tremendous success story for Minnesota charities, bars, restaurants, taxpayers and fans of the Minnesota Vikings.

In fiscal year 2022, charitable gaming generated $131 million for our state's local charities and $180 million in tax revenue. Since their inception, e-pulltabs have paid off $348 million in bonds on U.S. Bank Stadium, eliminating the state's share of the building 20 years ahead of schedule.

Thanks to the proceeds generated by e-pulltabs, local charities are delivering increased funding for disability services, food shelves, veterans' services, volunteer fire departments, youth sports associations and countless other wonderful charities.

That's why it was so disappointing to read see the April 28 commentary, "More gambling will make more harm a sure thing," misrepresent several issues regarding electronic charitable gaming in Minnesota.

First, the commentary claims that the e-pulltab games played on iPads in bars, restaurants and veterans' clubs since Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill authorizing their use in 2012 are "virtual slot machines" despite the fact that two administrative law judges have rejected such arguments.

In May 2019, Administrative Law Judge James LaFave rejected the tribal casinos' argument that e-pulltab games approved by the Gambling Control Board violated state law. In May 2020, Administrative Law Judge Barbara Case ruled against the tribal casinos, stating that the e-pulltab games offered by charities don't infringe on the monopoly of the state's tribes to operate video slot machines. Judge Case wrote, "The mere push of a button is too far attenuated to constitute 'mimicking' of a slot machine." In a recent video, Protect Our Charities outlined 12 major differences between slot machines and e-pulltabs.

But it doesn't take a judge to convince Minnesotans that an iPad is not a slot machine.

Second, the commentary mischaracterizes a February 2023 Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling pertaining to e-pulltabs. The Court of Appeals did not rule that existing e-pulltab games that utilized "open all" features were illegal or needed to be changed. This was confirmed by Assistant Attorney General Leah Hedman who spoke at the March Gambling Control Board meeting. During the March GCB meeting, Hedman said that e-pulltabs games could continue to be approved in the manner they have been approved since September 2012.

The recently passed House omnibus tax bill included a provision that would decimate all current electronic pulltab games in Minnesota. This provision, backed by powerful special interests, was slipped into the bill without a hearing, a vote, or a fiscal note. The lack of notice and the vote to make all current e-pulltabs illegal were alarming to the local charities across the state that provide vital services to Minnesotans.

Minnesotans overwhelmingly support maintaining e-pulltabs in their current form. A recent statewide survey conducted on behalf of Protect Our Charities found that an overwhelming 79% of Minnesota voters supported maintaining e-pulltabs in their current form.

If e-pulltabs are gutted, outstanding charities from Worthington to Warroad will be forced to deeply cut funding for their critical programs. The bars, restaurants and veterans' clubs that administer the games will find it harder to survive.

Given the enormously damaging implications for Minnesota charities and their small business partners, we encourage our legislators to oppose any effort to change e-pulltabs. As we move forward, we will be watching every step of the way to see who stands up for the local charities that make up the fabric of life in legislative districts around our state.

Jennifer Havlick is commander, American Legion Department of Minnesota. Rachel Jenner is executive director, Allied Charities of Minnesota. Keith Franke is executive director, Protect Our Charities.