BUSINESS

Minnesota charity groups regroup on electronic games

TAGs: electronic pull tabs, gambling, Minnesota, Minnesota Vikings

minnesota vikingsThe scrambling in Minnesota to get its stadium financing in order appears to have no end immediate end in sight. Now, Allied Charities of Minnesota, the group that represents charitable gambling operators in the state, have taken to holding meetings all over the state to discuss ways on how to jump start the struggling electronic pull tab games.

To say that these games, which were supposed to help pay for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, have colossally underperformed is saying quite the obvious. Revenue from these games were supposed to help finance the state’s $348 million share for the new stadium. But massive failures in projection, execution, and promotion have turned these electronic pull tab games into problems of their own.

Last year, the state expected to earn revenues to hit $34 million. That was then slashed to $17 million after the estimates proved to be woefully off-base. But even at $17 million, it was still completely overvalued to the point that revenue estimates dropped to a ridiculous $1.7 million.

About a month ago, Gov. Mark Dayton decided to ditch the state’s original plan of using revenue from these games to finance the stadium. Instead, it’s being discussed in the state to use an alternative financing plan the would see the  re-routing of the state’s cigarette tax and using funds from closing a business tax loophole. It was a humbling turn of events, to say the least, but one that had to be done to ensure that the state’s share in the new stadium doesn’t take forever to build.

In some ways, it was also a relief for the Allied Charities, something executive director Al Lund admitted last month when he said: “We’ll now be able to focus on electronics and not have the pressure of having $34 million [in needed stadium tax revenues] looking us in the face every day”. But even without that so-called “pressure”, there’s still a lot of people looking at Allied Charities to bring some semblance of dignity back to these pull tab games. That, in turn, is precisely why the organization has taken significant steps to address the issue, when it began hosting meetings in various parts of the state to discuss the steps that are needed to be made to give these pull tab games a new lease in life.

Allied Charities scheduled their first meeting earlier this week in Bemidji with more schedulted in Duluth, Mankato, Rochester, Fergus Falls, Willmar, Marshall, St. Cloud and Fridley.

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