MANKATO — A few bars are beginning to roll out the new electronic pulltab devices while businesses and charitable groups feel a mix of anticipation and wariness.
“Our attitude is let’s give it a shot and maybe it’ll help out everybody,” said Mark Healy, gambling manager for the Mankato-based Community Charities of Minnesota.
Healy, whose group runs 41 charitable gambling sites around the state, was initially critical of the proposal to legalize electronic gaming with anticipated added revenue going to help pay for the new Vikings stadium. Healy argued at the time that the proposal veered from the idea of charitable gambling funding charitable organizations.
But now that it’s approved, Healy said charitable groups are hoping there will be a big enough increase in what have been flagging gaming revenues to benefit charities.
“Most all of our sites are eager to get (electronic pulltabs),” he said.
The games are unleashing the biggest expansion of charitable gambling in 25 years and opening up electronic gaming on a scale not seen anywhere else in the country.
The games will push up payouts and games such as electronic bingo could have prizes of several thousands of dollars.
Healy, who played one of the new pulltab devices at O’Gara’s bar in St. Paul, said they’re fun, easy to use and entertaining.
“I put down 20 bucks and played 20 or 30 minutes. Twenty bucks of paper pulltabs would last you about 30 seconds,” he said. “A lot of the attraction is the entertainment of it.”
So far, only a handful of sites have the new pulltabs — which operate on iPads — but none are believed to be available yet in this area. That will change quickly as the sole distributor of the games has worked out some small kinks in the system and bars are eager to get them.