The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 6, 2012

E-gambling about to plug in



Still, not everyone is ready to jump on board the e-gambling bandwagon.

“We’re not interested. No way at all,” said Paul Ulmen, gambling manager of the Morson Ario in Mankato.

He said pulltab revenue at the VFW Post 9713 has fallen dramatically over the years as more Indian casinos opened. “I used to deposit monthly net receipts of $35,000. Now $10,000 is a good month.”

Statewide, charitable gambling hit a high of $1.5 billion annually until falling to its current level of $1 billion.

Charitable gambling proponents expect that bars or clubs such as Morson Ario that draw an older clientele will be less likely to put up the investment for e-gaming. They hope the iPad-based games will draw new, younger players.

And as prize amounts increase, interest may grow. The size of prize payouts can increase if more people in one bar are playing the electronic pulltab games.

Healy said prize payouts will jump dramatically when the electronic-linked bingo games are rolled out. Bingo players across the state would be linked, which could push payouts for a winner to several thousand dollars.   

The Gambling Control Board projects that 2,500 of the state's 2,800 gambling sites will install the electronic pulltabs, and that 1,500 will install the new electronic linked bingo. The bars and other gambling sites have to pay for the devices. They in return get up to 15 percent of gambling revenues and profit from having patrons buy more food and drinks while gambling.

More games expected

Charities that do charitable gambling pay a sliding-rate tax to the state based on their gambling revenues. Healy said Community Charities of Minnesota pays 36 percent in state taxes.

That rate won’t increase because of the Vikings stadium deal. The state is hoping the electronic games will generate as much as $1.2 billion more in gambling revenues with the tax revenue from that increase going to the stadium.

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