Pull-Tab Change ‘Will Devastate’ Minnesota Charities, Businesses
From the column: “We must protect electronic gaming to help our local non-profits, bars, and restaurants survive and thrive. Minnesotans support preserving e-pull tabs in their current form.”
Minnesota (October 25, 2023) — Electronic pull tabs are a uniquely Minnesotan success story. Since 2013, local charitable organizations have benefited from e-pull tab proceeds to deliver essential funding for non-profits offering disability services, food shelves, veterans’ services, volunteer fire departments, and youth sports. State charities collected $270 million via e-pull tabs last year alone. The bars, restaurants, and veterans’ clubs that administer e-pull tab games also use the proceeds to pay staff and business expenses.Yet politicians in St. Paul voted for drastic changes to e-pull tabs without input from Minnesota’s charities, businesses, or restaurants in an apparent attempt to satisfy their political patrons, the state’s powerful tribal-casino lobby. These damaging provisions were slipped into the House tax bill without a hearing, a vote, or a fiscal note, which is “an official estimate of the fiscal effects that would be caused by the enactment of a bill.”
Multi-line games first approved by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board in September 2012 incorporated both the so-called “open-all” feature and bonus features. This year’s legislation eliminated both.
The legislation also terminated one of the biggest parts of the 2012 agreement: that e-tabs can mimic paper. Paper pull-tabs offer bonus plays and free plays. We believe these changes will devastate electronic charitable gaming in Minnesota, given that the legislation makes all current games illegal as of Dec. 31, 2024.
These extreme changes put our remarkable local charities at risk. Non-profit organizations that benefit from charitable gaming in the Duluth area include American Legion Post 71, the Gnesen Volunteer Fire Department Relief Association, the Hermantown Amateur Hockey Association, and Irving Community Association. With decreased revenues, local organizations will be forced to cut critical programs. In addition, Minnesota bars, restaurants, and veterans’ clubs are expected to lose millions in revenue and wages.
During the most recent Gambling Control Board meeting, the impact of charitable gaming in the state was made clear. Gross sales during the current fiscal year are up 3% or more compared to the previous year.
Notably, electronics continue to perform as the primary form of charitable gambling and fundraising in Minnesota. Electronic games increased from 51% last year to 56% this year. During the 2020 fiscal year, electronics constituted just 33% of the state charitable gaming market. This robust growth further underscores the importance of electronic gaming for our local charities. We must protect electronic gaming to help our local non-profits, bars, and restaurants survive and thrive.
Minnesotans overwhelmingly support preserving e-pull tabs in their current form. A recent state-wide survey conducted on behalf of Protect Our Charities, a Minnesota non-profit, found that a whopping 79% of state voters supported maintaining e-pull tabs in their current form. There is strong bipartisan opposition to changing e-pull tabs.
We hope you can join us Thursday (Oct. 26) at American Legion Post 71 in West Duluth at 5814 Grand Ave. A town hall forum on charitable gaming starts at 6 p.m. In addition to non-profit leaders, Reps. Roger Skraba and Natalie Zeleznikar are confirmed to attend. Sen. Grant Hauschild has been invited. Proceeds from electronic e-tabs benefit our communities every day. At Thursday’s forum, you can connect with charitable leaders, exchange ideas, and discuss how we take action to strengthen our charities, bars, and restaurants. All members of the public are invited to attend this important forum regarding the future of electronic gaming in Minnesota.
About the Authors.
Keith Franke of St. Paul is a former state representative and executive director of Protect Our Charities (protectourcharities.com), an advocacy organization for electronic pull tabs. Rachel Jenner of Arden Hills, Minnesota, is executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota (alliedcharitiesmn.org), a St. Paul non-profit that serves charitable-gambling organizations.
SOURCE: Duluth News Tribune.