Charities, businesses worry proposed e-pull-tab changes will hurt their coffers
A DFL tax bill would require changes in the look and design of electronic pull-tabs — and if it passes, the changes would become law on July 1.
Rachel Jenner, executive director of the Charities Alliance of Minnesota, said changing the format of e-pull-tabs would hurt fundraising efforts for more than 1,100 nonprofit charities across the state that benefit from them.
“Even with a conservative estimate of 25% in loss of play, that would mean 67 million dollars a year to Minnesota charities,” Jenner said. “They’ve also included language to cripple our electronic pull-tabs. This bill could not only destroy our current games but any future the charities have in electronic gambling.”
Right now, anyone who plays an electronic pull-tab game can make a single click on the screen and an all-play option pops up. Under the DFL tax bill, those machines would be required to be changed and require three separate clicks to play each tab on the screen, making it similar to how paper pull tabs are played.
“To require players to click three times instead of one time will slow the play of the game. And the less they play, the less they play to pay,” said Jenner.
Business owners — mostly bars and restaurants — also receive a percentage of the electronic pull-tab revenue for hosting the games in their establishments.
Ray Ellison, owner of Broadway Bar and Grill in St. Paul Park, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS if the tax bill passes, the changes to the electronic pull-tabs would take effect too soon for him to have the new ones in place, and it could force him to shut down.
“It would be touch-and-go, to be honest with you. I think we would close, you know?” Ellison said. “None of us are getting rich in this business but the e-tabs certainly help us stay afloat and stay here.”
In a news conference Monday, House DFL leaders said the changes in the electronic pull-tab games is now required under a recent court ruling. They also said it keeps a promise with Native American tribes in the state to not have the electronic pull-tabs operate in a similar fashion as casino slot machines.