Dayton calm as electronic pull-tab revenues lag behind estimates - KMSP-TV

Dayton calm as electronic pull-tab, stadium revenues lag behind projections

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While state budget officials warn the budget forecast could quickly become obsolete if President Barack Obama and Congress can't resolve the federal debt negotiations, one thing that isn't in dispute is that electronic pull-tabs aren't bringing in as much as expected.

Buried in the 200-page budget forecast was a sign that part of the financing plan to pay for the new Vikings stadium is not going as well as planned. The new electronic gambling option available in bars and restaurants was expected to raise $34 million, but that projection has now been cut to $16 -- and an additional $9 million has been cut from projections through 2017.

Most of the state's $348-million share of the nearly $1-billion stadium is expected to come from the expanded gambling, but despite the low numbers, Gov. Mark Dayton insists it's not time to panic.

According to Dayton spokesman Bob Hume, the lower revenue isn't a cause for concern because the new games are being rolled out slowly to ensure it's done properly -- and it's only been three months since their debut.

When it came to electronic pull-tabs, St. Paul's mainstays -- like Mancini's and O'Gara's -- were among the first to get on board.

"We have a beautiful lounge that's reminiscent of Vegas, so we might as well get as many bells and whistles flying around here as we can," Pat Mancini told FOX 9 News.

Unfortunately, charities have been slow to make the switch to high-tech gaming.

"I think it is in the future, but it will take some time to evolve," Mancini said.

Allied Charities of Minnesota said the slow roll-out isn't a surprise because there's only one vendor currently approved to offer the equipment. With no competition, many charities are taking a wait-and-see approach.

In fact, since the electronic pull-tabs rolled out in September, only about 75 bars and restaurants have started to offer them. That left the state's November forecast bringing in only about half of what was expected.

Yet, Dayton's office insists it's "not a cause for concern" because the lower revenues simply reflect how long it has taken to roll out the technology.

"I think we'll catch up," Dayton said. "We're slightly behind now. We'll get there."

Dayton explained that the background checks are taking a significant amount of time, but he insists the market is there.

Meanwhile, there are still plenty of people who prefer the hands-on approach.

"We really like holding the pull tabs," explained Carroll Partridge. "It's just more -- it just feels better when you have something in your hand."

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