The good news about charitable gaming in Minnesota is this: It remains enormously successful in meeting its core purposes of strengthening communities and serving the missions of numerous organizations that make our state a better place in which to live and work.
In fact, paper pulltabs are as popular as they have been in years. Sales increased 7.6 percent last year and are on pace to do even better this year. In the past five years, paper pulltabs have rung up about $5 billion in sales.
Charitable gaming has been an important asset for communities and the missions of the organizations that receive grants from the gaming proceeds. Last year, charities gave $43 million to their missions and paid $41 million in taxes to the state. That’s hardly an enterprise that is failing.
Those realities should be kept in mind when reading articles like the March 12 editorial, “Want more stadium revenue from electronic pull tabs? Good luck with that.”
Remember, charitable gaming never sought to be part of the stadium funding bill. While Allied Charities of Minnesota was consulted on some technical aspects of e-games last year, we were never asked to provide formal economic projections. The economic projections were based on an approval process that would have the new games in 2,500 sites by last fall. So far, they are in about 170 sites. The slow roll-out isn’t a reflection on the potential of the marketplace, it’s the regulatory process. Only two of the five electronic manufacturers that want to do business in Minnesota are approved and only three of the 10 electronic distributors that will eventually do business in the state are currently able to do so.
All that is old news, though. We are looking to the future and we continue to believe that the new electronic games will be successful for charities, the communities they serve and for Vikings fans looking forward to a new stadium.
Once the roll-out of the new games catches up to what was forecast, we are confident that the new games, including the e-pulltabs, will be successful. In particular, bingo linked electronically to venues across the state will generate jackpots that will create excitement, attract new players and new customers for the sites offering the games. E-bingo provides the social aspect of paper pulltabs – a big screen TV allows all customers to join the fun and excitement whether or not they are playing – and jackpots that will be $25,000 or more every day.
There is no need to rush to judgment, particularly until the new games actually are in the marketplace. We believe that with time and an improved regulatory process, charitable gaming will deliver for Minnesota.