The Big Story Blog

Can pull tabs really deliver for Vikings stadium?

Posted at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

State officials say the expansion of charitable electronic pull tabs will pay off the $398 million state chunk of public financing for a new Vikings stadium.

But it's far from a sure bet how long it would take for pull tabs to generate that kind of cash.

MPR News reporter Elizabeth Dunbar dug into this issue in November. She wrote:

The Department of Revenue estimated electronic pull tabs could bring in up to $42.7 million annually in taxes from the sale of the games once the devices are installed in 3,500 bars and social clubs throughout the state. Dayton said that money could be used to pay off the debt if the state borrows money to contribute to the new stadium.

But the estimate is based on a series of assumptions that are only loosely linked to hard data.

That's because no other state has a system like the one that would be proposed in Minnesota, so state officials had to combine whatever data was available from the state's own experience with paper pull tabs with limited information on electronic gambling ventures in other states.

Big Story Blog took a run at the issue as well in November after Gov. Mark Dayton expressed his support for the idea.

Again, the issue was how much the pull tabs would bring in. Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, introduced a bill last year on electronic pull tabs. But he expected the state to see only about $20 million a year.

Dayton today said the electronic pull tab plan was the only politically palatable path for state financing.

But if the pull tab plan only brings in $20 million a year for the stadium, will it be enough to cover the annual debt service on the bonds?

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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