Electronic Pull Tabs Off to a Slow Start

Posted at: 12/12/2012 5:39 PM
Updated at: 12/12/2012 6:31 PM
By: Travis Dill

Electronic pull tab, or e-tabs, hit Minnesota in September, but the games are making only half of the revenue state officals expected.

Duluth's Irving Community Club brought e-tabs to the Northland. The charity's gambling manager, Genny Hinnenkamp, said the electronic sales have been growing.

“Our business has been great. A lot of the bar owners are really, really happy,” Hinnenkamp said. “People are...they're winning and they like it.”

But statewide charities have been shy about adopting the new technology. Only 75 establishments have electronic pull tabs, but the Gambling Control Board projected the games would be in 300 bars and restaurants by now.

Hinnenkamp said the e-tabs will take off soon.

“I can see why some of the gambling managers are hesitant because when you don't know...something you don't know you're not familiar with you're a little hesitant on. But once you learn it's simple,” Hinnenkamp said.

But so far the revenue from the electronic sales is $18 million below state projections. That money is set to pay for the state's portion of the new Vikings' stadium.

Governor Dayton met with state gambling officials on Wednesday to discuss the slow start, but they said there is no reason to panic.

Al Lund is the Executive Director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, which represents the charities on the state level. He said another reason for the slow start could be a lack of vendors.

Lund said only one company is selling e-tabs right now, but the Gambling Control Board is expected to approve more vendors next Monday.

That should help sales statewide, and Hinnenkamp is certainly optimistic about the future of electronic pull tabs.

“It's a win-win situation, and I think the state will do great. I think the Vikings will appreciate it,” Hinnenkamp said.

If electronic sales don't improve the state does have back-up plans for the stadium funding. The state could tax luxury suites or produce a sports themed lottery game.