2nd Minn. company debuts e-pull tab gamesby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — A second Minnesota company has debuted its electronic pull tab games, spooling up what's expected to be a $1.3 billion industry in coming years.
The game's maker, E-TAB Manufacturing, and its distributor 3 Diamond Co., set up and turned on the machines at the White Bear Lake American Legion just before the lunch hour today. It's the first location for the second version of the games. A version offered by Las Vegas-based Acres 4.0 debuted in September.
Company representatives said on Monday that they hope to install as many as 500 devices a month in bars around the state over the next year, and hope to capture a substantial portion of the state's market, projected by officials to grow to more than 15,000 devices across Minnesota.
"I think its neat. It's pretty cool," said Henry Hubbard, of Fridley, the first to put down a bet on the new machines. "I won a buck right off the bat."
Previous versions of the machines are based on iPad devices with dedicated software. The new versions of the games are based on electronic bingo devices first used in the United Kingdom. The games are expected to grow the pull tab industry from a $1 billion market in Minnesota to sell about $2.3 billion a year.
State officials said initial revenue was falling short of projections, and boosters blamed the lack of suppliers. For the three months since the game were legalized, a single Minneapolis-based distributor was the only source of the games. Charitable gambling operators said they wanted to see more options, and see how they compared, before signing onto the new games.
Glen "Spanky" Kuhlman, vice president of the 3 Diamond distributing business, said that he thinks electronic linked bingo could offer jackpots of up to $100,000 when they're authorized, as soon as next month. He said he thinks the bingo games will prove as, if not more, popular than the pull tabs.
Taxes from the games are projected to put more than $60 million in new taxes into state coffers. The majority of that has been earmarked to pay debt service on the state's $350 million share of the new $1 billion Vikings stadium.