Will Electronic Gambling Catch On in Minn.?

Posted at: 06/11/2013 9:23 PM | Updated at: 06/11/2013 11:16 PM
By: Travis Dill

Bar owners and charities in Minnesota have been slow to adopt electronic gambling, and gaming leaders were in Duluth on Tuesday to promote the new technology.

Some revenue from the games will pay for the state's portion of the new Vikings stadium, but money coming in has been less than initially projected.

An informational meeting at the Dry Dock Restaurant let Northland business owners and charities know what electronic gambling could do for them. Some said they were curious about the new options like electronic bingo.

“I'm king of interested in the bingo portion. I want to make sure I get one that's capable of the bingo,” Bill Berg said.

Berg owns Bergey's Sports Bar in Duluth. He said he wanted the electronic games in the bar but has waited months for several companies to produce more options.

“I've seen the first two and I knew there was going to be a couple more coming out. And I wanted to make sure I made the right choice for my establishment,” Berg said.

That has been a common feeling for owners and some charities that run the gaming, but the Irving Community Club, a Duluth charity, is confident in the electronic games.

“I think after a year and a half , I think it's going to be statewide. More of the organizations are going to get involved. Customers are going to ask,” Genny Hinnenkamp said.

Hinnenkamp is the gambling manager for the Irving Community Club. She said electronic pull tabs are doing well for the charity and she expects others to pick up the new technology. However, she would like to see the state help by promoting electronic gambling.

“Our mission is to give to the children and back to our communities. We don't want to spend a lot of money on advertising because then we're losing what we're in charitable gaming for,” Hinnenkamp said. 

Allied Charities of Minnesota represents the gaming operators, and Executive Director Allen Lund said the hesitation about electronic games is fading.

“We're stating to see the light at the end of that tunnel. So now for the rest of the summer, we believe, that the numbers, the number of sites, the number of charities, is going to go up,” Lund said.

Owners, charities, and gambling leaders said the same thing after Tuesday's meeting. They said electronic gambling will not be built overnight, but it does have a promising future.

The state will make up the slack in the Vikings stadium bill by pulling some money from increased cigarette taxes.

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