The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 25, 2013

Dayton: Didn't know source of e-pull tab estimate

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday that Minnesota's Gambling Control Board should have revealed from the start that it consulted the gambling industry when compiling its projections for how much the state would raise by expanding electronic gaming to help pay for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The amount raised so far has fallen far short of the original projections. Dayton told The Associated Press that he wasn't aware of the input from an industry that stood to profit from the new games, until the Star Tribune reported it on Sunday.

"I think it should have been disclosed," Dayton said. "I think obviously in hindsight, given the serious overestimation that occurred, that those sources should have been disclosed very publicly in the very beginning and people could have exercised the caution that probably was due given those sources."

Gambling Control Board director Tom Barrett said it was never his intent to hide that the companies were consulted. He acknowledged he showed several vendors the projections, but he said the companies didn't drive the estimates.

"They didn't create this," Barrett said. "They were asked, do you see any problems with the methodology? And in defense of what was before the board and how we approached it, I still stand behind the methodology."

Last year, lawmakers authorized Minnesota charities that run gambling games in bars and clubs to begin offering electronic versions of pull-tab and bingo games. The additional tax revenue will go toward paying the roughly $350 million the state has pledged toward the construction of the Vikings' new $975 million stadium planned for downtown Minneapolis.

Originally, the state projected those new games would generate $35 million in taxes by the end of 2013. That projection was downgraded to $17 million in November and then reduced to just $1.7 million last month. Barrett said the process of approving the games for use has gone slower than expected, and that charities have lacked the resources to promote the games. Boosters of the games are still hopeful they will grow in popularity and eventually get closer to the original projections.

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