The pros and cons of electronic pull tabs

6:32 PM, Feb 1, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Supporters for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium say electronic pull tabs could fund the state's share of the project and generate $72 million a year, but at what cost?

"The money goes into the boosters and first of all it makes our hockey program much more affordable for families," said Tim Berthiaume. 

Berthiaume is one of hundreds of paper pull tab operators throughout the state.  A portion of the money he collects goes to the St. Louis Park Hockey Booster, which turns around to help the community. 

If electronic pull tabs were used to pay for a new stadium, at this point, it's not entirely clear what will happen to the paper pulltabs.

Each year, roughly $1 billion is earned on paper pull tabs in Minnesota.  That amount is greatly reduced by what some call a complex state charitable gambling tax system.

"The tax needs to be reformed," said King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities.

Wilson's group proposed a bill in 2011 that introduced electronic pull tabs as a possibility of bringing new revenue to paper pull tabs and potentially decrease the taxes on charitable gambling.  The proposal would only allow electronic pull tabs where paper ones were sold and it would put a limit on the number of electronic ones at each business. 

Essentially, the bill would help protect charitable gambling of paper pull tabs. 

Wilson said, so far, nobody has talked to him about the bill his group has proposed.

The electronic pull tab machines would work much like a slot machine, except they're portable.  A player would pay the server or bartender, get a pin number, and then log into the machine and the game begins with a pull tab. 

But, instead of pulling each tab, you simply touch the screen to remove them. 

One pull tab would cost anywhere from $0.25 to $5.00.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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