Bar owners are back pitching gambling expansion as a cure for the state’s budget difficulties and economic woes in rural Minnesota.
A bill in the Senate would authorize electronically networked bingo — think Twitter, but with money and bingo cards. There would also be electronic pull tabs.
But the most interesting twist on the usual “slots in bars” campaign came from Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association president Dan O’Gara. This time it’s “video lottery.” He was making the rounds at the Capitol today pitching the idea.
Instead of the ubiquitous slot machine, O’Gara says the State Lottery could set up online games, to be run though terminals in bars or even wirelessly.
“People have in their mind that they’d see a slot machine,” O’Gara said. “Well, the technology has changed, where some of these things could be on an iPad. There’s different forms and the technology keeps changing. But it would be new forms of gaming.”
O’Gara says it could give $630 million to the state’s general fund — about a dime on the budget deficit dollar.
More gambling in bars has come up empty in many previous incarnations, but this new effort comes with Republicans in control for the first time. GOP Senate president Michelle Fischbach is a sponsor, as is Bill Ingebrigtsen, Mike Parry and Jeremy Miller. DFLer Linda Scheid makes it a bi-partisan effort.