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Local Organizations Speak Out over E-Pull Tab Bill

Local organizations are speaking out as a DFL-led omnibus tax bill in the State House is looking to impact electronic pull tabs.


As written, the bill titled House File 1938 would remove any e-pull tabs that have an open-all function, which would greatly impact organizations that rely on charitable gambling for funding.


"Our charitable gambling covers scholarships for kids who can't afford to pay for hockey. Also, all of our ice fees would double if we didn't have charitable gambling," Pine City Youth Hockey Gambling Manager Jordan Willette told WCMP.


Willette said that e-pull tabs are relatively new for the organization. There are seven locations that offer them to customers as of this month, but in that short time, Willette says e-pull tabs have brought in over $18,000 in deposits.


While they are new for PCYH, e-pull tabs have been available in Minnesota for over a decade. They were proposed as a funding source to pay for the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. This decision was so successful that taxes collected from e-pull tabs are slated to pay off the stadium 20 years sooner than anticipated.


The argument against the open-all function is that it emulates a slot machine too closely.


Willette argues that the two games function differently.


"A slot machine is a game that is completely random of chance," Willette said. "Electronic pull tabs operate out a finite pool of tickets, so there is a set number of winning tickets in each physical or digital box."


This measure does not remove e-pull tabs outright, but for organizations like PCYH, it would hinder how they function until new games could be put in place.


"All of the games that are on our e-tab machines have that open-all feature. Essentially, they would be eliminating electronic pull tabs because it would take an extensive amount of time to create new games that didn't have that open-all feature," said Willette.


State Representative Nathan Nelson told WCMP that this pull tab measure is one of the biggest issues he has been contacted over recently.


"It would really impact the funds that are coming into (charitable) organizations. It would, in many ways, really benefit all of us in our towns, in our communities here. I'm opposed to the changes."


There is a form letter available on the Pine City Youth Hockey Facebook page you can use to contact local legislators.


During a session on the house floor Thursday afternoon, Representative Patti Anderson of Dellwood proposed an amendment that would strip the e-pull tab language from HF 1938; however, it failed in a split vote.


The tax bill ended up passing in the house later yesterday evening in a vote of 69 to 57. While this is a setback for those trying to remove the language, the bill's companion in the State Senate, SF 1811, currently does not have language addressing e-pull tabs.


If the house measure was to make it into the final tax bill and pass, it would take effect on June 30, 2024.


Screenshot of e-pull tab machine taken from a video by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board.

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