Push to roll back e-tab changes ahead of legislative session, lawmakers agree to address issue

Bipartisan push to roll back e-pull tab changes emerges ahead of legislative session

Bipartisan push to roll back e-pull tab changes emerges ahead of legislative session

There’s a push ahead of the new legislative session to roll back what some are calling “harmful changes” to what electronic pull tabs will look like.

It won’t be an easy feat following years of Native American tribes arguing they’re too similar to slot machines, an appeals court ruling them illegal with how they look now and a DFL-controlled legislature that passed legislation to follow that court’s decision.

Still, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle met Thursday night for an ‘E-tab townhall’ at Anoka’s American Legion Post 102 to address concerns and talk about possible solutions.

“I’m hopeful that if we work together and try to achieve comprise and consensus we can find a solution to this issue that works for everyone,” Coon Rapids DFL representative Zack Stephenson said.

His Republican colleagues feel they were left out of the conversation surrounding last year’s legislation.

“The people who supported charitable gambling, who fought on the house floor, who worked in committee, were basically ignored,” Rogers Republican representative Danny Nadeau said.

While the e-tab games don’t have to change until the start of 2025, the way most operate now have an “open all” button with bonuses — similar to how video slot machines operate. If no changes are made, the e-tab games will look and operate more like a traditional paper pull tab.

“This is a very emotional issue for everybody because we know that this funding source does for all of our charities, small businesses, and people in need across the state,” Keith Franke, who runs Protect Our Charities, said.

A major concern from Franke and charitable gambling organizations is a potential loss of millions of dollars in revenue — that money goes to community groups and businesses that have charitable gambling.

“It’s a big chunk of change,” Tim Mclaughlin, with Post 102 said, adding that e-tabs are half of their charitable gambling revenue.

“The Post itself, the operation is pretty much a break-even and without the charitable gamble bringing in the money to pay the property taxes, and some of the maintenance … we’re out of business,” Mclaughlin said.

While little specifics were shared from the group Thursday about how and what’s going to be done to address those concerns and bring forward change, discussions did happen surrounding the potential continuation of tax cuts for charitable gambling.

The 2024 legislative session begins Monday.