The largest gambling expansion in 25 years is underway in Minnesota. Electronic gaming vendors are clamoring to win contracts that could prove to be quite lucrative. Minnesota legalized Bingo in 1946 and Pulltabs in 1985. This is essentially the activation of change on a very large scale for the state. Minnesota currently has a $1 billion-a-year charitable gaming industry that funds a vast array of community organizations and efforts. State officials anticipate a significant increase in revenue brought in with the e-gambling additions. The Minnesota Gaming Control Board expects to generate $348 million in taxes to subsidize the new Viking Stadium
Advanced Technology Appeal of Bingo Gaming
The Minnesota Gambling Board hopes to attract a younger generation of Bingo players and draw out new gamblers with the addition of electronic gambling devices and games. Younger crowds tend to be more technologically savvy than those in previous generations and will likely find the electronic gambling options more appealing than the historic cardboard pulltabs. Electronic pulltabs are games played on an iPad -like device complete with audio and visual effects. Currently found in very few states, including Illinois, Florida, and Idaho, it is hard to determine precisely how readily consumers across the board will embrace the additions. The Minnesota Gambling Board projects a rough estimation of locations that will install the pulltabs at 2,500 of the state’s 2,800 sites that currently have gambling licenses.
In addition, they expect to see 1,500 new electronic Bingo games installed, as well. Equipment vendors are reported to be visiting the state, particularly in Metro areas such as the Twin Cities, examining the landscape and comparing the market to that of their own state. Uncertain about the response of his clientele, Rick Rone, Manager of a VFW near the Canadian Border believes that a majority of his customers will have no interest in the new technology. Many clubs that hold gambling licenses, organizations such as the Elks, the VFW, and the American Legion cater to members who are 65 and older. Appealing to this particular demographic may prove to be a quite a challenge.
Charitable Gambling Rolls Forward
There are some skeptics who have voiced their concerns over a variety of unknown factors. Hiring new staff and orienting existing staff will become more complicated as employees and volunteers will require specialized training to operate and manage the new equipment. Laurie Gluesing manages numerous bars and restaurants throughout the state and says that she will likely try the new games in some of her larger establishments, but is not in favor of the extra work and stress at the smaller sites. As vendors scramble to check out the e-gambling landscape in Minnesota and examine the profitability of such ventures, the dice are rolling in the competition to land contracts.
The Gambling Control Board revealed that they started processing the financial and criminal background check on the first vendor to submit an application last week. Executive director of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, Tom Barrett is scheduled to visit equipment testing labs this week to acquire information on how the equipment and products will be tested prior to sale and installation. Regardless of the legwork still necessary to iron out the wrinkles, the groundwork has already been laid and the wheels are spinning. The dream of a new Viking Stadium is one step closer to reality as virtual gaming takes the lead in Minnesota.