Pulltab e-games in Minnesota airports aren’t helping the state’s cause

TAGs: electronic games, gambling, Minnesota, Minnesota Vikings

vikings-stadiumThe continuing problems facing electronic gambling in Minnesota just isn’t letting up so much so that whatever new project the state does in an attempt to jumpstart business has been met with more headaches.

The state has done a whole load of things to drum up interest; that much we can give them credit. The problem is that nothing seems to be working. Even putting up these e-games inside the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport isn’t generating the kind of revenues that were expected from it. Earlier this year, these e-tabs were launched in numerous airport bars inside MSP with the expectation that it would generate revenues of up to $3 million for the year.

Well, we just entered the eight month of the year and revenue has barely reached $50,000.

That’s a problem, and a big one at that.

The paltry returns of these e-games are just the latest indication that this supposed source of revenue to fund the state’s $348 million share of the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium is not getting the job done. Hell, Adrian Peterson can donate a week’s worth of his salary and it would still be more than what these pull tab devices could potentially earn in a year.

But again, give credit to state lawmakers for holding on to their belief that this new gig could still pick up. What other rationale would they have after the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) committee voted to keep this gambling experiment continue after approving a six-month run back in January. In their defense, delays in the rollout of these games, including the months-long upgrade of the airport’s software and wireless connections, probably contributed to the weak returns.

But there have been some signs of promise, or at least the hope of such. Jana Vaughn, executive director of the MSP Airport Foundation, told the Star Tribune that staff at these airport bars and restaurants will play critical roles in encouraging patrons to give these games a shot in an effort to boost revenue in the second half of the year. Vaughn admits that it’s a daunting task that will require hundreds of staff to undergo one-on-one training. But she is optimistic that this new recourse will be successful or at the very least, show some kind of pulse.

Another objective is to get more of these airport bars and restaurants to drive up their sales volume. As it stands, of the six locations where these pull tabs are currently present, only two – Fletcher’s Wharf and Itasca Grille – are driving up the revenues. The two account for 60 percent of the sales while the four other locations – Surdyk’s Flights, Ike’s Food and Cocktails, O’Gara’s Bar and Grill, and the forebodingly named Rock Bottom – are all lagging behind in sales volume.

“If we can get the other four sites to their level, then we’ll be in business,” Vaughn said.

It’s easier said than done and in this particular case, no truer words have ever been spoken.


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