The effort to control the reeds in the style of the ‘slot machines’ comes to the Capitol


 “Some of these products that are being offered on these iPads have really come to mimic less electronic pull tabs and more of what some people would call slot machines on iPads,” Garofalo said. Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, is among those pushing for limitations that would be effective in September 2022.

The measure he successfully had added to a House budget bill would bar games that “display or simulate any other form of gambling, entertainment, slot machines, electronic video lotteries, or video games of chance.” Garofalo teamed with House Commerce Committee Chair Zach Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, on the provision. Stephenson said the way the linked bingo games and e-pull tabs have progressed might be out of line with what was contemplated when they were authorized.

After payouts and expenses, proceeds from play are split among charities, the state treasury and stadium debt repayment. “We have a deal that we struck in 2012 with our sovereign tribal governments and we’re not holding up our end of the deal, I don’t think,” he said.

The pull tab version of electronic gambling offered in bars and restaurants was first authorized in 2012 as part of the finance plan for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. After a weak start, the games have boomed in popularity. It also calls out “hold and spin features, delayed reveals, cascading or tumbling reveals, bonus games, bonus wheels, free play, free spins.” 

“We’re not just talking about the software interfaces and bells and whistles that are on an iPad,” Kresha said. “What we’re talking about is moving revenue.” Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, said the move to restrict electronic games hasn’t been carefully thought out. He said local charities have the most to lose if substitute games aren’t developed.

Donate today. A gift of $17 makes a difference. You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together. Ray Bohn, who represents the electronic charitable gaming industry in the state, said the results of the changes would be “devastating. It will be a complete and utter disaster.” He said the language would revert the games to their operations in 2012 and 2013, when they reached less than 10 percent of their expected revenue, and the state had to divert other taxes to make good on the stadium bond payments.

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