Electronic gaming has become more commonplace across the US over the past decade, and recently Minnesota got in on the act. Minnesota lawmakers approved electronic pull-tab gaming, and this week the Gaming Control Board gave final approval for the games to begin running in bars.
Dozens of select bars have launched the new pull-tab games on iPads across Minnesota. Patrons have the ability to choose from several different games on the iPads, all of which could net them a big payout. By law, 85% of the money wagered by gamblers must be paid out in jackpots.
The gaming is officially called pull-tab, but most everyone knows what the machines really are, glorified slot machines. The bar owners and patrons, however, could care less what they call the machines, as long as they help keep the Vikings in Minnesota.
Over the past few years, Vikings owner Ziggy Hood has floated the idea of relocating the team if the state did not help finance a new stadium. The Vikings have been playing in the Metrodome since their inception, and have patiently watched as dozens of other NFL franchises received new homes.
Earlier this year, after years of failed plans to subsidize a new stadium, legislators finally agreed on a bill that allowed pull-tab gambling in electronic form, and in Minnesota bars. The state will receive 5.4% of the revenue from the machines across Minnesota, and out of that percentage, a portion will go towards assisting in the funding of a new stadium.
"I think this is a win-win," said Neil Banks, a patron at O'Gara's Bar and Grill, one of the first bars to offer the new games. "I don't have to sit around pulling paper tabs anymore to see if I've won money in the lottery, and we also get to keep the Vikings. This is one of the best things to happen in Minnesota in a long time."
That point is still up for debate. Opposition groups do not agree with the idea of bringing slot-like games into a traditional Conservative state when it comes to gambling. The opponents of the games believe it will cause more gambling addiction and crime.
Proponents of the games have maintained that the future of the pull-tabs has always been in electronic form, and that this was just a way to kick-start the process of bringing Minnesota gambling into the new millennium.