Dayton: Industry SHOULD be part of pulltab projections

MPR file photo/Mark Zdechlik

Governor Mark Dayton today sounded a different tone after critical remarks on whether the Gambling Control Board was as open as it should have been about the gambling industry’s role in estimating the revenue the state could expect from electronic pulltabs.

Asked about the industry’s role for a second day, he defended his administration’s previous consultations with the gambling industry, dating back to 2011, as state officials weighed whether electronic pulltabs would make enough to pay for the state share of a Vikings stadium:

“In my mind, my personal opinion, Gambling Control Board officials consulted with industry experts, its certainly understandable. They were creating something that didn’t exist before, so you had to turn to somebody that had some knowledge and expertise of the industry generally, and ask for their advice and their projections.”

The Associated Press quoted Dayton yesterday as saying he “wasn’t aware of the input from an industry that stood to profit from the new games,” and they should have been disclosed — even though his own administration cited industry input as a basis for its projections.

Dayton’s explanation today: he might have forgotten that part. Here’s how he actually put it:

“Well, I don’t track every legislative hearing, and there was a tremendous amount going on in those last weeks of the session, as there are in any legislative session. I am just telling you truthfully what I was aware of, what I wasn’t. If somebody told me something and I don’t recall it, that’s my responsibility. I don’t know that’s the case, but I was asked the question and I gave a truthful answer.”

You can see the video of his full remarks on the subject here.

In a separate interview, revenue commissioner Myron Frans said today that, yes, the gambling industry’s input was baked into the state’s electronic pulltab projections from the start, and that his agency was forthright about it.

“We exercised, I think, really great due diligence in examining all the data, which included industry data, and we tried to make that as obvious as we could to everybody, both in terms of testimony before the different hearings — I forget how many different hearings we testified to in the Legislature — but also in presenting this idea to the administration.”

That said, the governor also acknowledged that the root problem remains, and that his administration and the Legislature are going to have to work out the gap between the reality and the promise of electronic pulltabs:

“I don’t know what caused it to go awry. I know we’re going to work to correct it. I think the panic alarms are premature. We’ve got a reserve that’s covered. The bonds aren’t going to be issued until next fall. We’re going to push hard now to get these games throughout the state and being taken advantage of. You know, people that play them say they’re really a lot of fun, and they’re more fun than paper pulltabs, and once we get the charities going in, they’ll get up to speed and we’ll see where we stand.”