State lawmakers took a gamble by introducing electronic pulltabs to fund a Vikings stadium, and, so far, it seems to be paying off.
Gary Danger with the Minnesota Gambling Control Board says electronic pulltabs pulled in about $700,000 in its first month. About 85 percent goes back to players and prizes. That leaves 15 percent, in this case about $100,000, for the charities supported by pulltab sales. Danger says we won't find out until the end of the fiscal year how much money will go toward the new Vikings stadium, the whole reason electronic pulltabs were introduced in the first place.
"Last year there was $37 million received from taxes in charitable gambling alone," says Danger. "So anything in excess of that this year then becomes monies that are available for the stadium payments."
Right now about 40 sites in the state sell video pulltab games and only one manufacturer is licensed to sell those games to the state. But Danger says he expects both numbers to grow in the next few months.
Curious pulltab patrons at the Sunshine Factory Restaurant and Bistro in New Hope have given the virtual version a shot since that location started selling them a little more than a week ago.
"There’s a lot of interest," says Tracee Deneui, gambling manager for the Armstrong Cooper Youth Hockey Association, the group that is supported by pulltab sales at the Sunshine Factory. "People would come down to the booth and if they don’t know that we have it and see the machines there they’re like, 'Oh what’s this? I think I’ll put in 20 bucks.'"
Deb Olson, a regular pulltab player from Crystal, called the electronic pulltabs "kind of cool." While she says she is no longer skeptical of the new type of pulltabs, she says she will mainly stick to paper pulltabs.
"I think it could go faster than when you’re pulling by hand," Olson says. "It’s easier to hit just a button just like you go to a casino, you hit a button and next thing you know there’s your 20 and you’re done."
Many speculate initial sales are probably due to the initial excitement of a brand new type of game hitting the market and the extensive debates in the legislature over using electronic gambling to fund a football stadium.
"What we're trying to figure out right now 'Is this a novelty effect?' 'Is this something that has traction and will continue?'" says Danger. "It's unknown."
Even if electronic pulltabs don't rake in the kind of dough the Vikings hope for, many say they're still a win-win for charities.
"I think it is something that will enhance what we already have and that's what's going to be nice about it," says Deneui.
October 22, 2012