Minnesota Vikings Bet on Bingo
The state of Minnesota is faced with a big dilemma: how to finance the construction of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings football team without burdening taxpayers with the bill for its construction. To help finance the state's share of the construction costs, Minnesota is betting big on bingo and pull tab games. Martiga Lohn of the Associated Press wrote: "Minnesota is betting big that bringing technology to small-dollar bar gambling will draw a surge of new players, whose wagers will help build a $975 million football stadium for the Vikings. But even those involved in the charitable gambling industry question whether the customers and the money will be there when paper pull-tabs and bingo are translated into animated games on portable electronic devices."
Not everyone is sure that the move will be successful. Roger Richter, who oversees gambling for the Burnsville Lions Club, told reporters: "I'd be shocked if it's successful. I don't think it's going to make the money that everybody thinks it's going to make." Minnesota legislators approved the deal based on estimates that predicted that annual tax collections from pull-tabs and bingo would double from the present $37 million to $95 million when the games are launched sometime in 2013. The new tax revenues will cover the state's debt service on the state's $348 million contribution towards the construction of a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis at the site of the Metrodome, the home of the Vikings.
Minnesota will become the first state to offer electronic pull tabs in bars and restaurants and electronically linked bingo games where players at different locations compete for a prize or jackpot. California banned electronically linked bingo games, because of a conflict with tribal gaming operations in the state. Currently, Minnesota ranks as one of the biggest states for charity gaming. Mary Magnuson, the attorney for the St. Paul-based National Association of Fundraising Ticket Manufacturers, said that Ohio, Florida and California probably have larger charity gaming operations, but do not supply her organization with any data. Magnuson told reporters: "We have an extraordinarily large market in the current paper products, and whether the electronic format of that game will prove to be as popular or more popular will just remain to be seen." In the gambling community at large, online bingo games have become extremely popular - check out these 7 reasons to switch.
Not everyone is on board, and some charitable organizations want to see if the revenues will offset the expenses of the new electronic devices. Brian Kirkpatrick, gambling manager for Confidence Learning Center, a camp for developmentally disabled, deaf and hard-of-hearing people near Brainerd, said his organization sold $8 million dollars' worth of pull tabs last year, and believes the new electronic games have the potential to help charities raise more money for good causes. Kirkpatrick wants to see if the new games generate enough money to offset the expense of operating them. Since the games will not be implemented until next year, it will be impossible to predict the outcome at this time.
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