Charitable gaming organizations push back on proposed e-pull tab law change
Charitable gaming organizations across Minnesota say they could lose millions of dollars if the House and Senate adopt a new law prohibiting certain e-pull tab games.
“Today is about taking care of our veterans, our firefighters, our Lions Clubs and literally every youth sports organization and association in the State of Minnesota,” said Rep. Shane Hudella, R-Hastings. “The absolute only thing that the language does in this bill is hurt Minnesota charities.”
At issue are e-pull tabs that require just one touch to activate multiple rows of characters to determine if a player has won anything. Native American tribes say those electronic pull tabs started to look and operate too much like slot machines, which only the tribes are allowed to operate in Minnesota. The Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed and now the Legislature is considering banning those specific devices.
“This clarification of game features is not an elimination of electronic pull tabs or bingo,” says Andy Plato, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association. “Current e-games have evolved beyond both the plain reading and intent of the current statute.”
Plato adds they are not trying to hurt charitable causes and hopes the Legislature can do something to help the charities.
Meanwhile, the group Protect our Charities held a news conference Thursday with Rep. Hudella and other lawmakers urging the House and Senate not to ban the games.
“Changing the rules would be devastating to these organizations,” said Keith Franke, a bar and restaurant owner in St. Paul Park who leads the charity group.
Franke says the courts technically didn’t rule the games illegal, and his group urges lawmakers not to take that step. Forcing charities to go back to older technology would be like going back to flip phones and wouldn’t be as popular or profitable, he said.
The e-pull tabs not only help charities but are also a major funding source for U.S. Bank Stadium.
In the 2022 fiscal year, paper pull tabs brought in $2.1 billion in gross receipts, up from $1.7 billion the previous year. In fiscal 2022, electronic pull tabs brought in $1.9 billion, up from $1.3 billion the previous year.