ST. PAUL — The first electronic pull-tab games were set to go live Tuesday in five Minnesota bars, an early test of a new form of gambling intended to help pay for a new Vikings stadium.
The state Gambling Control Board approved five iPad games — "Treasures of the Jungle," ''Mystic Sevens" and three others — made by Las Vegas-based Acres 4.0 at a packed meeting in Roseville. The vote drew no debate and no drama, but the games' maker and distributor were upbeat afterward as they prepared to launch the games.
The first electronic games will be available in O'Gara's Bar and Grill in St. Paul, along with four other locations in Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park, St. Cloud and St. Paul.
State lawmakers are relying on taxes from electronic pull-tabs to help the state repay borrowing for its share of a $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The electronic games, which feature brightly colored animation and sounds, are based on the paper pull-tabs that charities have long sold in bars.
Those selling the games hope they will attract new players, including those who don't play paper pull-tabs or go to casinos. Players must show photo identification to prove they are at least 18 years old.
CEO Jon Weaver of distributor Express Games said Minnesotans' love of paper pull-tabs makes it an ideal place to launch electronic versions.
"We hope to grow as large as the market will allow," he told reporters after the meeting.
Acres 4.0 founder John Acres said his company plans to introduce more versions of electronic pull-tabs tailored to specific types of players, as it tests the market and learns what people like to play. The company is also exploring linked pull-tab games that would boost jackpots.
Other manufacturers are also seeking state approval to begin offering electronic pull-tabs in coming months. Omaha-based Oasis Gaming executive Scott Henneman said his company is working on games it hopes to launch by December.