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MN Lottery Bets On Solving Vikings Stadium Funding Problem

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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 Minnesota State Lottery is looking beyond simple scratch off tickets to help fund a Vikings stadium.

It is investigating thousands of electronic game monitors around the state that pay off every few minutes, instead of every few days.

Ed Van Petten, executive director of the Minnesota State Lottery, says that because the lottery is already state-sanctioned with approved retailers, it would be fairly uncomplicated to establish – and there are many options for games that are simple to play.

“It would just be a lottery terminal that you would normally use for your Powerball or Mega Millions ticket, and it would be programmed to get you a keno ticket,” Van Petten said.

At the Capitol, some lawmakers want to delay stadium construction until a stable funding source is identified. Critics like Sen. Dave Thompson (R – Lakeville) are calling for an immediate fix before the legislature adjourns.

“We were assured it was not going to come back on the general fund, not going to come back on the taxpayer,” Thompson said. “So then what are you going to do? Are you going to take it from charitable gambling? Is Zygi Wilf the next charitable cause in this state?”

But Governor Mark Dayton calls that kind of criticism “politically motivated,” and top Democrats like House Speaker Paul Thissen are waiting to see if electronic pull-tab revenues will improve.

“I am certainly not in a place of panicking. I think we just need to understand exactly what the lay of the land is,” Thissen said.

The Vikings stadium bill already includes two other sources of revenue just in case the electronic pull tabs don’t generate enough money. One is a sports themed lottery game, and the other is a 10 percent tax on luxury suites in the new stadium.

Van Petten told WCCO he does believe the lottery has the legal authority to add small television or tablet monitors with new electronic games. But he says it won’t happen unless legislative leaders and the governor sign off on it, and that there are protections for charities that rely on pull tabs.

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