Electronic Pull Tab Money Lagging Far Behind Expectations

Posted at: 01/16/2013 7:23 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- An issue facing state lawmakers is how to pay for the Vikings stadium. The millions of dollars electronic gambling was to bring in has been slow at best, and it's concerning lawmakers.

Signing the stadium bill into law was an exciting step for many supporters. Tax proceeds from electronic pull tabs were expected to cover $348 million of the $975 million stadium project.

"To build this stadium will take everyone's effort. This will take a team effort as it was to get it approved," said Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf.

The attention was there, but at this point funding hasn't lived up to its expectations. Only about half of the expected revenue was made last year.

"I didn't think that that was going to be a reliable source of income for the stadium, so no it was not a surprise," said Senator Mike Benson.

Even four weeks ago when revenue was looking bleak, Governor Dayton met with gambling and revenue officials because electronic games were lacking in availability around the state.

"It's something different and anything to help the Vikings stadium I will try and help," said Brenda Trom.

Brenda Trom, Manager of Recreation Lanes in Rochester, hasn't seen as many gamblers as she thought.

"You expect something more being new in Rochester," she said.

This is the only place in Rochester that even offers the games.

"People come in and they try them but a lot of people like the cardboard in their hand, a lot of people want to see what the play is, how much has been played out and on there you don't have any idea," said Trom.

Recreation Lanes sold $21,000 in online games just last month and Trom is optimistic that it will catch on.

"I think more bars will get into it, I've had a couple people inquire about coming here and looking at them," she said.

Backers of the plan still say the games need time to grow in popularity and to be available at more businesses. Senator Carla Nelson still anticipates sufficient funding from electronic pull tabs.

“Implementation is slower than expected but each machine is bring in more revenue than expected,” said Nelson.

According to Senator Nelson, there is a backup plan of using linked bingo if needed.