When the Minnesota Vikings wanted public funding for a new stadium, the state turned to electronic gambling to help the team pay the bills. But while some charities and bars have done quite well using the machines, others have been more resistant to the idea.

Tour to Highlight Benefits

That’s why the state government, along with the Allied Charities of Minnesota, have started a tour to help highlight the advantages that come with offering these games to players throughout the state. The games, which include electronic “pull tab” and bingo machines, have proven popular where they are used – but have failed to reach the market penetration that the state had hoped for.

There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about the machines, which was one of the reasons behind the tour. Al Lund, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, hopes that his tour can help get more people on board with offering the machines if they better understand them.

“There’s a misconception about how the stadium is being funded,” said Lund.

Program Confusion Abounds

While some bar owners and charities simply don’t want to help the stadium fund, others have proven to be confused about how the program works. Some charities worry that money that goes to stadium funding might be coming out of their budgets, which Lund points out just isn’t true. The only funds used are the gambling taxes collected from charitable gambling, and that’s true regardless of the form of gambling being offered. Some of this money also goes to the state general fund.

For other owners, it’s more of an issue being unsure whether they’ll truly benefit from electronic gambling machines.

“I’ve seen the machines before, but I’ve never tried them,” said Mike Ronning, a bar owner from Duluth. “It’s fun. I just don’t know if it’s right for my place.”

But according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, a lot more venues could probably benefit from having the machines around. They say that charities that have used e-gambling machines have seen a 23percent increase in their gross revenues, while other charities have been growing at just a 2.5 percent rate.

Many bar owners are concerned that the games could take too much time away from their bartenders, especially if patrons can’t understand how they’re played.  If the games are too complicated, they say, bar customers will just ignore them.

“It’s gotta be simple, or people will be intimidated,” said Darrin Goad, owner of the Gopher Bar & Grill in Duluth.

The tour will make a total of nine stops throughout Minnesota, in an effort to encourage charities and bars to give the gambling machines a try.