Vikings Stadium: Electronic pull tab receipts below expectations

Published 10:30 am Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tax receipts from new electronic gambling in bars and restaurants, approved to help pay for a new Minnesota Vikings’ stadium, are coming in at about half the anticipated pace.

Projected gambling revenue from electronic pull tabs and bingo for this fiscal year has been reduced from $34 million to $16 million, according to a new state budget forecast released Wednesday, Dec. 5.

As part of the deal reached on the $975 million stadium last legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers assumed most of the state’s $348 million portion would be funded by the new gaming.

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Tom Barrett, head of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, said getting the devices into bars and restaurants is taking more time than expected. Only one vendor has been approved by the state to supply games, he said, due to the unanticipated complexity of required background checks. And that means many charities are waiting for more vendors to see what games they have to offer before jumping in.

About 75 bars and restaurants have electronic gaming devices. In a perfect world, Barrett said he would have liked to see that number at 300 by now. Minnesota, one of the biggest states for charitable gambling, has about 2,800 charitable gaming sites where people wager about $1 billion annually.

“Obviously we’d like to be further ahead, but our focus is to make sure that integrity is there,” Barrett said. “As things get up and running, I think we’ll be on track.”

Barrett said revenue per device was anticipated at $33 per day. Right now, it’s slightly below that at $31 a day.