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Reality Check: Electronic Pull Tabs Coming To MSP?

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is considering electronic pull tab games as a way to help the state pay for its share of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The consideration comes as pull tab money trickles in more slowly than expected.

Lots Of Bars, Not Many E-Tabs

There are 6,000 bars in Minnesota, and 2,800 have paper pull tabs. So far, only 87 have installed the new electronic devices. That’s problematic because the state committed $350 million to a new Vikings stadium, with pull tabs as the main source of revenue.

In fact, finance officials say Minnesota’s taking in about half the pull tab revenues it predicted. Projections have been cut for next year from $34 million to $16 million and by 2017, from $84 million to $47 million.

Here’s what you need to know: Only a very small amount of every gambling dollar actually goes to a stadium.

– 85 cents goes back to players.
— 4.35 cents to the gaming company.
— 3 cents to charity.
— 2.25 cents to the bar.

That makes it about 5.4 cents to the state — and the Vikings stadium.

But that’s not the whole story.

The money is trickling in because there’s only one pull tab vendor in Minnesota right now. Gambling officials will approve two more next week.

MSP may approve e-tabs within days, making it the single largest pull tab location in the state.

If Minnesotans are worried about the slow roll-out of electronic pull tabs, they should look at Virginia. The commonwealth approved e-tabs two years ago, and it’s still not online.

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